English News Archive

From November 23rd, 1997, back to September 26, 1997, reversely ordered by date (i.e.: the newest can be found on top), summarized from original article. The missing News between November 1997 and the end of 1997 will be posted in the next few weeks. For more recent News look here: English News.

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November October September

Simon Wiesenthal Centre moves to censor Web page

French justice officials have opened an investigation into a neo-Nazi Internet site at the request of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC).

The site "Elsa SS 88" appeared on America On Line (AOL) in September and was blocked by the company after being alerted by the SWC.

The probe, opened on charges of inciting racial hatred, inciting murder and contesting crimes against humanity, aims to identify the authors of the site which sources said appeared to be linked to the British(?) neo-Nazi group "Charlemagne Hammer Skinheads."

(France investigates neo-Nazi Internet site;04:39 p.m Nov 05, 1997 Eastern; PARIS, Nov 5 Reuters)

French Leftists march in support of illegal immigrants

5,000 people including illegal immigrants and their French sympathisers marched through central Paris on Saturday demanding France allow the immigrants to remain in the country. The demonstration was held five days before parliament votes on government-backed draft laws aimed at allowing some categories of illegal migrants to remain but ordering most to leave France.

The Communist and Green parties were among 40 groups supporting the march.

The leftist groups which back France's one million illegal immigrants accuse Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's cabinet of working to recapture working class votes which now go to the National Front party by cracking down on foreigners during an economic recession.

(Illegal immigrants demonstrate in Paris;12:16 p.m. Nov 22, 1997 Eastern; PARIS, Nov 22 Reuters)

Nazi Monies Commission to open bank safety deposit box

A Brazilian bank vault suspected of holding gold and cash belonging to Holocaust victims will be opened next week, a member of a special search commission said.

"The opening of the safe will bring to the surface missing pieces of information. But most of all, it will lead us to the origin of the fortune," Henry Sobel, Senior Rabbi of the Sao Paulo Israeli Congregation and a member of the seven-member Special Commission for the Search of Nazi Monies told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The vault, which is installed at the downtown branch of the federally-owned Banco do Brasil, was hired by Albert Blume, a Nazi militant who arrived in Brazil in 1938 and worked as an auctioneer until his death in 1959.

Sobel said the commission suspects Blume functioned as a representative for fugitive Nazis who are believed to have smuggled a small fortune in gold, cash, jewelry and art to Brazil at the end of World War Two.

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso set up the Special Commission for the Search of Nazi Monies in April and the Blume case could be the group's first concrete success.

Sobel said the commission had at least three other cases under investigation, but refused to provide further details until more evidence was discovered.

(Brazil to open suspected Nazi gold vault;01:38 a.m. Nov 21, 1997 Eastern;By Adrian Dickson; SAO PAULO, Nov 20 Reuters)

Under pressure from Israel Greece dedicates monument to Jewish Holocaust

Greece unveiled on Sunday a monument to honour the memory of an estimated 50,000 Jews from Salonica who died in Nazi concentration camps in a move targeted to mend ties with Israel.

Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos unveiled the menorah-shaped monument in a ceremony attended by Israeli Health Minister Yehoshua Matsa, three senior Greek ministers, a U.S. Congressional delegation and many representatives from the world's Jewish communities.

Officials said honouring the Holocaust victims would help end misuderstandings with Israel that have harmed bilateral ties and put pressure on Greece to prove that it was not cultivating anti-Jewish feelings.

Greece, which has close relations with most Arab states, was among the last western nations to officially recognise Israel in the early 1990's, and has since been at odds with Tel Aviv over mostly trivial issues.

``Israel welcomes the decision of the Greek government to erect the Holocaust monument in Salonika,'' an Israeli government statement said.

The bronze sculpture, a cluster of bodies with their hands up in despair, was created by Yugoslav artist Nidor Glint whose work is also displayed at Auschwitz's Nazi concentration camp.

(Jewish monument aims to mend Greek-Israeli ties;08:46 a.m. Nov 22, 1997 Eastern;By Costas Paris; SALONICA, Greece, Nov 22 Reuters)
(Greece honours Jewish Holocaust victims;09:46 a.m. Nov 23, 1997 Eastern;By Costas Paris;SALONICA, Greece, Nov 23 Reuters)

Lithuanians look to prosecute 89 year-old at SWC behest

A Lithuanian prosecutor's office said it had opened a case against Kazys Gimzauskas, 89, who Nazi-hunters allege handed the Jews over to death squads when he was deputy head of the Vilnius branch of the security police in Nazi- occupied Lithuania.

The head of the Jerusalem branch of the Simon Wiesenthal centre, Efraim Zuroff, said in a statement: ``Considering the fact that Gimzauskas ran away to Lithuania in 1993, this step is long overdue.''

``In such cases, every day that passes without judicial action against Nazi murderers only increases the likelihood they will never pay for their crimes.''

The case was opened and closed in 1994 but the prosecutor's office said it was not satisfied that all of the possible surviving witnesses had been questioned or that all perpetrators had been identified.

Nazi-hunters say Lithuania is reluctant to try its war criminals and come to terms with the thorny issue of local collaboration in the Holocaust.

Lithuanian prosecutors say building air-tight cases five decades after the fact is next to impossible.

The Germans occupied Lithuania from 1941 to 1944 and during that time around 90 percent of the country's pre-war population of 220,000 Jews were murdered. Historians say that many ordinary Lithuanians helped the Germans in the killings because of bitter feelings over Jewish collaboration with an earlier, ruthless, Russian-communist occupation.

(FOCUS-Lithuania to investigate war crimes cases;08:24 p.m Nov 21, 1997 Eastern;By Ed Stoddard; RIGA, Nov 21 Reuters)

Dormant Swiss bank account with Lenin's name identified

The name Vladimir Ulyanov, Lenin's real name, is among the most recent list of names of dormant Swiss account owners.

Whether the account, with less than 100 Swiss francs, belongs to the Bolshevik leader, or simply to someone else with the same name is unclear.

But it is common knowledge that Lenin lived in Zurich during his exile, then left Switzerland in April 1917 for his train journey across the European continent to Russia where he subsequently changed the course of history.

The account is listed as Wladimir Ulianow, the German spelling of Lenin's given name.

People can search for names of dormant account holders via the Internet (http:/www.dormantaccounts.ch) by typing in the full name.

(Did Lenin forget to close Swiss bank account?; 06:55 p.m Nov 19, 1997 Eastern; ZURICH, Nov 19 Reuters)

Florida insurance panel holds hearing on Jewish wartime property loss claims

Dozens of Florida war survivors gathered to tell their stories at a hearing before a panel representing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which is looking into the prospects of recovering money owed by European insurance companies to people, mainly Jews, who lost everything in the Second World War.

The panel is holding a series of hearings throughout the United States to search out Holocaust survivors and their heirs who have not been paid for insurance policies held during the war.

Their claims may run to hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars, sources said.

Though some witnesses had copies of unpaid policies on life, property and dowries, some brought only anecdotal evidence and memories, a problem that insurance experts said vastly complicates the undertaking.

Insurance companies have said that in some cases, records were destroyed when buildings were bombed and burned. In others, benefits of policies confiscated by the Nazis were paid to Germany, and nothing further is owed.

Assicurazioni Generali, an Italian insurance company, said in a letter to Florida Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson that its businesses in Eastern Europe were expropriated and though it made efforts to retrieve accounting and compensation records, ``we were largely unsuccessful.''

But Terrell Hunt, an insurance archeologist and president of Houston, Texas-based Risk International, said there was hope of policy reconstruction through a search of a huge cache of well-preserved documents in London and a ``potential treasure trove'' of papers recovered by the Russian army was held in archives in Moscow.

Nonetheless, Washington State Insurance Commission Deborah Senn, heading the investigation, called the task `` enormous,'' in part because Holocaust survivors were getting old.

U.S. insurance officials said if proof of unpaid policies can be documented, they might be able to pressure the European companies, many of which do business in the United States or have alliances with U.S. companies, to pay up.

On March 31, a group of Holocaust victims and their families sued seven European insurance companies, alleging they withheld, concealed or converted the proceeds of insurance policies sold before 1946.

Lawyers sought class action status for the lawsuit, estimating it could affect 10,000 claimants and involve billions of dollars in damages.

(Florida Department of Insurance: Panel To Hear From Florida Holocaust Survivors;01:08 p.m Nov 19, 1997 Eastern; TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ )
(Holocaust survivors want insurance paid;11:26 p.m. Nov 20, 1997 Eastern;By Jim Loney;MIAMI BEACH, Fla, Nov 20 Reuters)

Germany to go to WJC gold conference in London

Germany said it would attend a British-sponsored conference in London next month aimed at uncovering the fate of gold and other assets looted by the Nazis in World War Two.

The German Foreign Ministry denied statements by the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in New York claiming Bonn did not plan to attend the conference on December 2.

The United States, Britain, France, Austria and Switzerland are among countries attending the conference. Switzerland has come under fire for its dealings with the Nazi Reichsbank central bank during the war.

The conference will review steps taken to reimburse countries and individuals whose assets were looted by the Nazis during the war as well as address the question as to whether further compersation should be made.

(Germany confirms to go to conference on Nazi gold; 12:31 p.m. Nov 22, 1997 Eastern; BONN, Nov 22 Reuters)

French W.W.II archives opened to researchers

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has ordered state archives to open their files more widely to historians researching the 1940-44 Nazi occupation of France, telling archivists to take a more liberal interpretation of laws keeping many records secret for 60 years.

Researchers who will now have access to such records will have to agree in writing not to invade the privacy of those people mentioned in records that they unearth, Jospin's office said.

The order comes in response to a request for easier access to wartime records was made to Jospin by Henri Hadjenberg, head of France's Jewish community.

Publicity about the fate of property confiscated by the collaborationist Vichy government from Jews by the occupying Nazis has led to accusations that the French government did little after the war to return such property to relatives.

(France orders release of wartime archives; 05:44 p.m Oct 02, 1997 Eastern; PARIS, Oct 2 Reuter)

Swiss National Council rejects Holocaust fund order to avoid referendum

The Swiss parliament's lower house rejected a government proposal that parliament give it clear legal backing in the form of a decree directing the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to pay in 100 million Swiss francs ($69 million) into a new Holocaust memorial fund after its legal affairs committee recommended the decree be rejected.

The government and the SNB's own directors had argued for a decree from parliament, saying the central bank's autonomy statutes did not include guidelines for making a contribution this large.

Lower house (National Council) deputies said the SNB was autonomous by law, and also noted that a parliamentary decree would be subject to a referendum if enough citizens petitioned for one, potentially delaying the payment by months.

The Swiss government set up the Holocaust fund that now holds 170 million francs and its mixed board of Swiss and world Jewish group directors hope to pay a first tranche of 17 million francs to destitute Jews and other Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe.

The Holocaust fund is separate from a proposed seven billion Swiss franc Solidarity Foundation meant to provide aid for victims of rights abuses, poverty and disasters.

(Swiss parliament backs off Holocaust fund order; 05:06 p.m Sep 29, 1997 Eastern; BERNE, Sept 29 Reuter)

The World Jewish Congress accuses Swiss of owing billions

A report to be released by the World Jewish Congress found that Switzerland received 85 percent of the looted gold sent abroad by Nazi Germany and may have failed to return about $3 billion worth of the stolen bullion after the Second World War.

In 1946, Switzerland, in an agreement with the United States, Britain and France, returned to the Allies looted gold worth $58 million at postwar prices.

A WJC source said next week's report will say that the amount of looted German gold received by the Swiss was just over $3.5 billion at current prices.

The source said that would mean the Swiss had failed to return about $3 billion in stolen gold at 1997 prices.

The new WJC report will conclude about 30 percent of the bullion came from individuals and businesses with the rest taken from the national banks of countries the Nazis occupied. Past estimates have claimed that up to 10 percent of the gold came from non-monetary sources.

A U.S. government study released last May charged that neutral Switzerland served as the principal banker and money launderer for Nazi funds, allowing the Third Reich to buy strategic materials that prolonged the war.

The WJC report is being released in preparation for an international conference on Nazi gold to be held in London in early December.

The Swiss government and central bank, however, questioned the results of a report by the WJC that said Nazi Germany had poured more looted gold than previously acknowledged into Switzerland.

``I am somewhat surprised by these (new) results because there is hardly anything that is better known than the gold transactions of the Swiss National Bank (SNB),'' Finance Minister Kaspar Villiger told parliament.

An SNB spokesman said it was difficult to understand how the WJC report, prepared by economist Sidney Zabludoff, had come to the conclusions it reached.

``It is difficult to understand these calculations,'' SNB spokesman Werner Abegg said about the WJC report.

``The (German) gold transactions with the SNB or the ones between central banks that went through depot accounts at the SNB have been documented and published to an extent that is unprecedented in the world,'' Abegg told Reuters.

``We have nothing to add to this. These are the facts that we have and they are on the table,'' he said.

(Report says Swiss may owe billions in Nazi gold; 06:43 p.m Oct 02, 1997 Eastern; By Arthur Spiegelman; LOS ANGELES, Oct 2 Reuter)
(Swiss challenge new Nazi gold report;02:07 p.m Oct 07, 1997 Eastern; ZURICH, Oct 7 Reuter)

German taxpayers fund new W.W.II compensation program for Czechs

Germany and the Czech Republic have agreed that a fund for Czech victims of Nazism, will begin operating in January 1998.

"We both agreed that January 1, 1998 is a realistic deadline for starting the activities of the fund," Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zielenie said.

Prague and Bonn signed a joint declaration in January 1997 in which Germany apologised for the Nazi wartime occupation and the Czechs expressed regret at violent excesses committed during the post-war expulsion of Sudeten Germans.

The new Fund for the Future will finance joint projects such as youth exchanges and to build old people's homes for Czech victims of Nazism.

Germany has paid about 100 billion marks ($56.3 billion) in compensation since World War Two.

(German fund for Czech Nazi victims to start Jan 1; 11:49 a.m. Oct 03, 1997 Eastern; PRAGUE, Oct 3 Reuter)

Leftist protesters arrested in Australia

Ten people were arrested at a protest outside a Brisbane meeting of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. A police spokesman said the protesters were charged with a variety of street offences.

About 400 anti-white protesters gathered outside the meeting, which began at Brisbane city's Festival Hall at midday.

Hanson, an independent elected to parliament in March 1996, sparked a bitter race row last September when she claimed in her maiden parliamentary speech that Asians were swamping Australia. Hanson has also criticised Aboriginal welfare.

(Ten arrests at Australian race politician protest; 12:26 a.m. Oct 04, 1997 Eastern; MELBOURNE, Oct 4 Reuter)

Detroit's Jewish mafia part of exhibit

Three groups have refused to donate photos to an exhibit on Detroit's Jewish community in the 1920's and 1930's because it includes pictures of the Purple Gang, a primarily Jewish mob.

Gang members are shown in about 100 of 700 photos in the exhibit at the Jewish Community Center in Oakland Country's West Bloomfield Township.

The Purple Gang, which was founded just before World War I, thrived under Prohibition. In the late 1920's the gang reigned over the Detroit underworld and controlled the city's vice, gambling, liquor and drug trade.

For more on the Purple Gang go to this address: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/amex/crime/pgangarticle.html

(Purple Gang photos meet resistance; The Associated Press; Oct 11, 1997;WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Michigan)

Bardot fined by court over remarks about Moslems

A Paris court fined actress-turned-animal-rights-campaigner Brigitte Bardot 10,000 francs ($1,700) for inciting racial hatred by saying France was being overrun by sheep-slaughtering Moslems.

The verdict overruled a lower court which cleared Bardot of racism in January, reckoning that her remarks in a newspaper article in April 1996 were part of a ``passionate struggle for animal rights.''

Bardot triggered the court cases with a column for the conservative daily Le Figaro, in which Bardot said the traditional throat-slitting of sheep for the Eid-el-Kebir Moslem feast was barbarous and violated French law.

``France, my country, my homeland, my land is again being invaded with the blessing of successive governments by a foreign overpopulation, mainly Moslem, to which we pay allegiance,'' she wrote.

``Mosques flourish while our church bells fall silent for lack of priests,'' she added.

(Bardot fined for racism over remarks on Moslems; 03:41 p.m Oct 09, 1997 Eastern; PARIS, Oct 9 Reuter)

Bordeaux's Jews gather in anticipation of Papon trial

Members of Bordeaux's Jewish community gathered at the city's Sephardic synagogue where a plaque in the courtyard is inscribed: ``To Our Martyrs.''

The synagogue was ransacked on January 10, 1944 and transformed into a jail for Jews on their way to the Auschwitz death camp.

Maurice Papon, a former official in France's Vichy regime, is accused of ordering the arrests of Jews in Bordeaux between 1942 and 1944.

About 20 members of the extremist Jewish youth group Betar stood nearby, wearing white T-shirts reading ``Never Again'' and ``We Are Watching.''

``We want an exemplary trial and an exemplary sentence. Our main preoccupation is not with the fate of the executioner but to honour those who died,'' Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld said.

``This is the trial of a man but it is also that of a system and of a regime. France must look at its past in the face,'' he added.

Henri Hajdenberg, President of the CRIF umbrella body for French Jewry, said ``we are about to live through a major event in the history of our country.''

(Bordeaux pays tribute to Jews as Papon faces trial; 09:37 a.m. Oct 08, 1997 Eastern; By Bernard Edinger; BORDEAUX, France, Oct 8 Reuter)

France's main police union asks Jewish forgiveness

France's main police union on Tuesday acknowledged and begged forgiveness from the 750,000-strong French Jewish community for the role of policemen in rounding up Jews for deportation to Nazi death camps under the World War II Vichy regime.

French police played an active role in the deportation of 76,000 Jews from France during the war.

The deportations began with the infamous July 16, 1942 ``Vel d'Hiv swoop'' in which 13,000 Jews were rounded up at a Paris indoor cycling stadium before being placed on trains.

``Since then, we policemen have born an extremely heavy burden which we must shed without ever forgetting that it existed,'' Andre Lenfant, head of the National Union of Uniformed Police Officers (SNPT) said.

The SNPT asked Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement to make a visit to the Jewish memorial a compulsory part of the policemen's training in order to show them ``the shame of our profession'' and curb the influence of far-rightists in the police force.

The SNPT, together with other police unions, won a court ruling banning the creation of a union dominated by the anti-immigrant National Front led by Jean-Marie Le Pen.

France's Roman Catholic church a week ago asked God and the Jewish people to pardon it for its silence over the deportations.

(French Police Apologize for Jewish Swoops;08:47 a.m. Oct 07, 1997 Eastern; PARIS Reuter)

Latvia fails to find evidence against Kalejs

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre criticised Latvia on Thursday for failing to come up with evidence against an alleged war criminal Konrad Kalejs, 84, but a Latvian official said a thorough search had revealed nothing.

Kalejs, who lives in Australia, says he was a student during World War Two.

``The facts speak for themselves. An inability to find them only highlights the blindness of the Latvian authorities to the collaboration of Latvians with the Nazis in the murder of Jews and non-Jews during World War Two,'' the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff said.

The Centre has asked Latvia to seek Kalejs' extradition from Australia, where a war crimes tribunal during the 1980s found there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.

``I checked all available sources to see whether Kalejs took part in war crimes and shootings of the Jewish population but I did not find such facts,'' Uldis Streilis of the Latvian prosecutor's office told Reuters.

(Nazi-hunters criticise Latvia on war crimes case;02:49 p.m Oct 09, 1997 Eastern; RIGA, Oct 9 Reuter)

German village refuses to accept Jewish Immigrants

The village of Gollwitz, 60 km (40 miles) west of Berlin, provoked outrage and charges of anti-Semitism last month when its council voted against a proposal to settle about 60 Jews from the former Soviet Union.

The council revoked the decision on Thursday night. But Guenter Baaske, head of the local social services department, said it had not approved the plan but had merely said it was willing to hold further talks.

``It will now be important to talk to the people in the village to find out how much willingness there is to take in immigrants,'' Almuth Berger, the regional state official responsible for foreigners' affairs told ZDF television, pledging widespread consultation with Gollwitz's 400 residents.

Officially, Germany permits immigration only in rare instances. But, as a sign of responsibility for the Holocaust that nearly wiped out Jewish life in Germany and most of Europe, it allows unlimited Jewish immigration.

Villagers argued that Gollwitz was not large enough to withstand such an influx of newcomers.

Jewish leaders blasted the original decision, saying it was a further sign that anti-Semitism was still a danger in Germany more than 50 years after the Holocaust.

(Row over Jews in German village unresolved;01:56 p.m Oct 10, 1997 Eastern; BERLIN, Oct 10 Reuter)

U.S. State Department critical of N.Y. City decision

The State Department on Friday described as ``counterproductive'' a decision by New York City to spurn Union Bank of Switzerland's proposal to provide a letter of credit for a note sale because of the bank's handling of Holocaust issues.

(State Department hits N.Y. decision on Swiss bank; 01:50 p.m Oct 10, 1997 Eastern; WASHINGTON, Oct 10 Reuter)

NATO Troops Censor Serb Journalists

Bosnian Serb journalists staged a protest, demanding the right to resume broadcasting and appealed in an open letter for other journalists to join them in "the defence of the freedom of the written and spoken word," after NATO troops seized four transmitters silencing their radio and television station.

NATO troops took over the transmitters after the broadcast of a doctored tape of a news conference given by U.N. war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour which Westendorp's office described as "the last straw" after several warnings to SRT.

Pale journalists said they made one mistake translating a journalist's question and added an introduction, but had later rerun the original tape as requested by Western officials.

(Silenced Serb journalists protest in Pale; 03:05 p.m Oct 04, 1997 Eastern; By Caroline Smith; PALE, Bosnia, Oct 4 Reuter)

Wiesenthal Center pushes for extradition of Australian to Latvia

Latvia said on Friday that it had no evidence on alleged war criminal Konrad Kalejs and was unable to ask for an extradition order from the government of Australia, where he now lives.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which hunts ex-Nazis around the world, had sent a letter to the Latvian authorities asking them to extradite Kalejs, 84, from Australia.

Kalejs, who became an Australian citizen after the war, denies involvement in war crimes but has been deported from the United States and Canada after the authorities found he was a member of the Arajs execution commandos in Nazi-occupied Latvia.

An Australian war crimes tribunal investigated Kalejs in the 1980s but said there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.

(Latvia says no evidence on alleged war criminal; 05:13 a.m. Oct 03, 1997 Eastern; RIGA, Oct 4 Reuter)

Italian Roman Catholic Church dedicates new chapel near Oswiecim, Poland

The Italian Catholic Church has dedicated a new church for St. Joseph parish near the Nazi labor camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in the memory of an estimated 40,000 Italians deported there during the war.

Jewish organizations were invited to send representatives to the dedication ceremony, but spokesmen for the St. Joseph Church were unaware of any attending.

(Italian dream of Auschwitz church to come true; 08:18 a.m. Sep 30, 1997 Eastern; By Jude Webber; ROME, Sept 30 Reuter)
(Italian Catholic church opens near Auschwitz; 09:10 a.m. Oct 05, 1997 Eastern; By Marcin Grajewski; OSWIECIM, Poland, Oct 5 Reuter)

Union Bank of Switzerland issues statement of regret over thief's troubles.

Union Bank of Switzerland said Thursday it regretted any troubles suffered by a former guard, Christoph Meili, who fled to the United States after revealing the bank had shredded Nazi-era papers that might help track Jewish wealth.

The bank stopped short of issuing an apology as demanded by Meili, who received death threats after stealing 1930s and 1940s records from the bank and giving them to a Jewish group.

"UBS turned the country against me, I have many death threat letters ... After all this, it's finished? No. I think I need an apology," Meili, who won permanent residence status in the United States Monday, told reporters in Washington Wednesday.

UBS also stated the criminal investigation of Meili is closed and he will not be prosecuted for violating banking secrecy laws.

(Swiss Bank Says It Regrets Ex-Guard's Troubles;11:00 a.m. Oct 02, 1997 Eastern; ZURICH Reuter)

Austrian government investigating one-man army

Austria's police, convinced it has caught a bomber who terrorised the country for four years, now faces the painstaking task of finding his accomplices or proof that the man acted alone.

A 48-year-old, unemployed technician, who lives with his parents, was arrested after losing both hands when a bomb he was holding exploded as he got out of his car to talk with police.

Among the items also found by police that belonged to the man were several pipe bombs, a triggering device diagram, a typewriter wheel matching the one used to write letter claiming responsibility for a past bombing attack on gypsies, and a note with the words "Bajuwarische Befreiungs Armee-Friedrich der Streitbare," which translates into English as "Bajuvarian Liberation Army-Frederick the Warrior."

The "Bajuvarian Liberation Army" has been claiming responsibility for bomb attacks since December 1993.

(Austria investigates whether racist bomber acted alone; 07:14 a.m. Oct 05, 1997 Eastern; By Julia Ferguson; VIENNA, Oct 5 Reuter)

World War Two bomb uncovered at Czech refinery

Czech police evacuated employees of the Koramo a.s. refinery east of Prague on Tuesday after workers discovered a large unexploded bomb dropped from a plane during World War Two, police said.

The bomb was uncovered two metres (6.5 feet) underground during excavation work at the plant near the city of Kolin. An 800-metre (875-yard) area around the bomb was evacuated.

Czech news agency CTK said police de-activated the detonator before carrying out a controlled explosion of the bomb, which contained an estimated 125 kg (275 pounds) of TNT explosive.

Koramo officials said the refinery had returned to full operation in the afternoon.

The bombed was dropped by either U.S. or British air forces who are believed to be the only ones active in Czech lands during World War Two. Allied air attacks came during the final months of the war in 1945.

(Czech refinery evacuated after WW2 bomb uncovered; 12:06 p.m. Sep 30, 1997 Eastern; PRAGUE, Sept 30 Reuter)

Tiny Gollwitz, Brandenburg refuses to accept Soviet immigrants

Residents of a small German village defended themselves against charges of anti-Semitism on Thursday, after they refused to settle a group of 60 Jewish emigrants from the former Soviet Union. Gollwitz, an agricultural community of 400 people 60 km (40 miles) west of Berlin, became the focus of a bitter row that goes to the heart of Germany's painstaking efforts to show it is a place entirely different from Nazi Germany.

Jewish leaders in Berlin branded the villagers "anti-Semitic," while Gollwitz residents said they had nothing against Jews but that their "tiny" village could not take the strain of an extra 60 residents.

Andreas Nachama, chairman of Berlin's Jewish community, sent a protest letter to the Brandenburg state premier last month in which he said Brandenburg was allowing hatred of foreigners to flare up again.

Officials in Brandenburg told Reuters they were surprised by how fiercely Gollwitz residents resisted the proposal but also by the assumption that their opposition was rooted in anti-Semitism.

"We are constantly facing the question of where to put the Jewish emigrants from eastern Europe," said Guenter Baaske, a local state official, adding that his region would take in about 600 Jews from the former Soviet Union this year.

As a sign of its responsibility for the Holocaust that nearly wiped out Jewish life in Germany and most of Europe, Bonn allows unlimited Jewish immigration.

(Official Defends German Village in Jewish Row ;11:01 a.m. Oct 01, 1997 Eastern; BERLIN, Reuter)
(German village fights anti-Semitism charges ;12:32 p.m. Oct 02, 1997 Eastern; By Deborah Cole; GOLLWITZ, Germany, Oct 2 Reuter)

German Leftists want Kohl to compensate homosexuals from government funds

The environmentalist Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) called on the government to begin treating thousands of homosexuals killed and imprisoned by the Nazis with the same respect and benefits afforded to Jews and other groups.

"The homosexual victims of the Nazi era deserve to be rehabilitated and compensated for their suffering," said Volker Beck, legal affairs spokesman for the Greens. "We want parliament to apologise to the homosexuals."

Since 1945, Germany has paid more than 100 billion marks in reparations to various groups of victims, but nothing to the homosexuals, Beck said.

Perhaps only 20 or 30 homosexual survivors of Nazi concentration camps were still alive, according to Beck. The Nazis forced the homosexuals to wear a pink triangle while in prison that marked them as deviates.

Earlier efforts to rehabilitate and compensate homosexuals were thwarted by Kohl's centre-right coalition. "For homosexuals the Third Reich era didn't end until 1969," Beck said, noting that thousands were prosecuted in postwar West Germany for homosexual acts. West Germany did not remove its anti-gay law, Paragraph 175, until 1969.

(German MPs want Kohl apology to Nazi gay victims; 03:27 p.m Oct 01, 1997 Eastern; By Erik Kirschbaum; BONN, Oct 1 Reuter)

Bismark Society and Bismark Foundation remember other German unification

Until the end of World War Two, Reich Foundation Day (January 18) was a major celebration and a source of national pride. But after the horrors of the Holocaust and two world wars, Germans blamed their "distorted" historical development partly on Bismarck's failure to establish democracy and on aggressive Prussian militarism.

The day became taboo and was never marked publicly again, although it has privately been the key calendar event for a small, obscure fan club of the Iron Chancellor called the Bismarck Society.

The Society and its arcane rituals have become the source of deep embarrassment to a new state-funded historical research foundation named after Bismarck, based in Friedrichsruh just outside Hamburg, where he is buried. Bismarck is one of the most controversial and ambivalent figures in German history and experts are still split over the extent to which he contributed to the Nazi's rise to power.

The two Germanys were fused in 1990. But today's enlarged Federal Republic of Germany, founded in 1949, is modest in comparison with the colossus Bismarck established.

Bismarck's tomb in Friedrichsruh is adorned with the flags of his obsolete dominions: East Prussia and Pomerania, which lie mainly in today's Poland and Russia.

Every year on the two unification days, the Society's members-some 750 devotees of the Iron Chancellor-gather in the Bismarck mausoleum to honour his memory.

Although they stop short of calling for the return of these provinces seized by the Red Army at the end of World War Two and formally removed from German control by the Allies, their nostalgia for the "glory" that once was is clear.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Bismarck's death on July 30, 1898, something the Society hopes will rehabilitate a statesman they regard as badly misunderstood. But for many Germans it is sure to stir mixed feelings and rake up uncomfortable memories of the past.

The Society is keen to get involved in the new foundation, but the foundation is equally at pains to distance itself from the group and its alleged links with the far-right lunatic fringe.

The Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens voted in parliament in June against a bill converting the Bismarck family archive, consisting of 800 boxes of documents and 3,000 publications about him, into a federal foundation. But with backing from Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who has a doctorate in history, his coalition pushed the law through parliament, paving the way for it to be established.

"Bismarck has no right to be here. He regarded democracy as a plague," the SDP's Uta Titze-Stecher said, contending that the state had no right to fund a foundation dedicated to such a historical figure.

This year the Bismarck Society marked the 1871 unification presided over by patron Prince Ferdinand von Bismarck, the statesman's great-grandson, at the Friedrichsruh family estate.

"Bismarck was a great statesman. He had weaknesses, of course, but he should be understood in the context of his time. He was not an imperialist like his successors Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler," Ferdinand said in an interview.

"Bismarck always insisted that after he unified Germany no more wars should be fought and no more land conquered."

(FEATURE - Bismarck fans mark other German unification; 09:24 p.m Sep 28, 1997 Eastern; By Fiona Fleck; FRIEDRICHSRUH, Germany, Sept 29 Reuter)

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