02/17/05 — Beware: Ominous echoes from Germany

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Beware: Ominous echoes from Germany

“Here, in 1945, genocide took place — just like it did in Hiroshima.”

The place was Dresden, Germany.

The speaker was Franz Schoenhuber, a former Nazi SS officer.

On Feb.13 and 14, 1945, Dresden was, indeed, a place of horror. The Allies were recovering from the Battle of the Bulge and trying to bring an end to the war in Europe.

British and U.S. planes mounted a massive, around-the-clock incendiary attack on Dresden. Historians say from 25,000 to 45,000 people died in bombings. Some German extremist groups contend the toll was more like 100,000 — comparable to the ultimate toll of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima later that year.

Germany surrendered three months after the Dresden attacks.

Franz Schoenhuber called the bombings “war crimes.”

“War crimes” and “genocide?”

These are paradoxical allegations from a former Nazi World War II SS officer who was a part of the systematic murder of some six million Jews and several million others during Germany’s Holocaust.

Schoenhuber was among an estimated 5,000 neo-Nazis and other extremists parading through Dresden last Sunday. They were trying to depict Germany as the “victim” of World War II.

But in Berlin on the same day that Schoenhuber was delivering his tirade to skinhead followers, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was saying:

“Today we grieve for the victims of war and the Nazi reign of terror in Dresden, in Germany and in Europe. We will oppose in every way these attempts to reinterpret history. We will not allow cause and effect to be reversed.”

Those are reassuring words to the surviving relatives of Jews who died in the Holocaust. And to all the people of countries whose sons and daughters fought and died in the war to end Adolf Hitler’s reign of atrocities in his determination to dominate the world.

But the world must be ever mindful of events in Germany today. Throughout the last century it was demonstrated that the people of Germany are capable of astounding recovery in the wake of wartime defeat and economic collapse.

Today we must recognize that there are in Germany some people like former Nazi SS officer Franz Schoenhuber striving for leadership. And the sane people now governing Germany admit that in the past two years there has been a “substantial increase” in the number of hard-core Nazis and their sympathizers.

Adolf Hitler rose from a jail cell to mass murderer and the brink of world domination in little more than 10 years.

Published in Editorials on February 17, 2005 9:17 AM