American Jewish group demands action against magazine accused of ‘whitewashing’ Nazi past
American Jewish group demands action over Waffen-SS article
An American Jewish group has demanded that the German government take action against a magazine that is said to have whitewashed the history of the Waffen-SS – the Nazi party’s armed wing.
Though the Waffen-SS is generally regarded as one of the main perpetrators of the Holocaust, a recent issue of the magazine portrays its members as nothing more than a bunch of good-natured soldiers.
Der Landser (the common soldier) regularly publishes material that comes close to breaking German laws against Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denials.
It is published by Pabel-Moewig, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hamburg-based Bauer Media Group, publisher of scores of magazines in Britain, such as Closer, Heat, Zoo and Mother & Baby.
German interior ministry officials have reportedly taken the Wiesenthal Centre’s complaint seriously by promising to investigate Der Landser’s content.
Regarded as a pulp magazine, it claims to base its articles on true events with obvious fictional elements. Critics claim it nourishes a violent far-right subculture.
Though it studiously avoids mentioning the word “Nazi” or using swastikas – to avoid prosecution – it uses codes and cultural markers that are recognised as pro-Nazi symbols. For example, a tattoo of the numbers “88” stands for “HH” or “Heil Hitler.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Wiesenthal Centre, said: “The way they [Der Landser] interpret it, everyone in the Wehrmacht was just like in the American Army or the Canadian Army or the British Army.
“They forget the most important point. People in this army were thugs and murderers who almost brought down Western civilisation.”
Hier decided to complain to Bauer, Amazon (which also sells the magazine) and the German authorities after reading a study conducted by Stefan Klemp, a German journalist and historian.
Klemp’s evidence showed that numerous officers profiled reverentially in Der Landser belonged to units that had committed atrocities, even if they were never themselves convicted of war crimes.
One recent issue, for example, described the exploits of August Zingel, a member of a so-called SS-Totenkopf, or “Death’s Head,” unit. Members of the Totenkopf units were notorious for their role running concentration camps, including Auschwitz.
The NY Times’s report carries a statement from Bauer in which it denies that the magazine has violated German laws.
[“Stock Photo: Photo Of Reconstruction Of Event Taking Place In Time Of World War Ii” on Shutterstock]