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Germany

Bundestag seeks answers on Nazi past

German parliamentarians have urged the government to enable more thorough research into the role former Nazis played in post-war German institutions. The Bundestag voted to give historians easier access to archives.

Liberal Free Democrat Stefan Ruppert told the federal parliament on Thursday that it was "undisputed" that a "staffing continuity" had existed in the early post-war years of former West Germany, when Germany was divided into Allied and Soviet sectors.

At the end of World War II, members of Hitler's Nazi party had not simply disappeared, Ruppert said during a debate sought by the Greens party.

Christian Democrat Armin Schuster urged parliament to conduct a "thorough stocktaking" by pooling past studies on post-war ministries and authorities.

Parliament's deputy speaker Wolfgang Thierse of the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) said the historical record still contained lamentable "deficits."

Improved guidelines sought

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative-liberal coalition and the opposition SPD voted for a resolution that better guidelines should be enacted to give scientific researchers easier access to archives.

The Greens party abstained. Its co-leader Claudia Roth complained that the resolution lacked a systematic approach, including a requirement that Germany's regional states and municipalities cooperate in further research.

The Left Party said that all files related to Nazi crimes of the past, including classified documents, older than 20 years should be made public. Its parliamentary application was rejected, however, with government parliamentarians citing security risks.

Left seeks answers

Ahead of Thursday's debate, the Left Party had asked in parliament how many Nazi-related persons had worked in post-war institutions since 1949.

The government, in its reply, said personnel files were prone to error and cases needed to be examined individually.

Referring to previously published studies, it said of the 204 senior civil servants employed by Germany's economics ministry between 1949 and 1963 at least 108 of them had previously been Nazi members.

Furthermore, evidence had been found that at least 36 of them had been members of the Hitler's paramilitary units, the SA and SS.

The government reply also cited the make-up of the federal office of criminal investigations, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA).

In 1959 three-quarters of the BKA's executive employees had once been Nazi party members. Thirty-four persons, representing more than half of this group, had been members of Hilter's SS, the government statement said.

Center-right and opposition SPD parliamentarians accused the Left of creating the false impression that the Nazi past was only related to former West Germany.

The Greens demanded that the government provide information on the activities of the BND federal intelligence agency in relation to the convicted Nazi war criminals Adolf Eichmann - who was executed in Israel in 1962 - and Klaus Barbie -who was convicted and died in Lyon in 1991.

ipj/kms (dapd, dpa)