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East Germany and its attitude to ex- Nazis

10 May, 2019

Train track leading to the gas chambers at Auschwitz II-Birkenau

• I DRAW attention to a comment in the otherwise excellent piece (The wound that cannot heal, Review, May 2) namely that “Communist East Germany… was more severe in sentencing those involved” giving the impression it clamped down more heavily on ex-Nazis.

Actually the regime made plenty of use of ex-Nazi personnel; ex-Gestapo and SS were used extensively by the Stasi. The East German army was led for most of the 1950s and early 1960s by ex-Nazi generals.

Much of early East German judiciary had worked in the Nazi era and 14 per cent of the interior ministry employees were ex-Nazis according to a review of the files. If ex-Nazis we’re willing to “repent” and work for the Communists, they were accepted.

Yes, there were high-profile trials for show and the West German system was infiltrated by plenty of ex-Nazis; but let’s get rid of this myth that East Germany pursued the Nazis for reasons of justice and truth; in several cases, even those convicted were quietly pardoned as long as they worked for the regime.



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