Historical Dishonor: Towns Stuggle with Citizen Hitler
Should the choices of past generations forever condemn the sons and daughters of today?
Many towns in Germany are now struggling to achieve a truthful balance.
Spiegel Online reports:
Several towns in Germany still have Adolf Hitler on the rolls as an honorary citizen. Most remove his name once the oversight is discovered. But should they? Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel isn’t so sure.
They tend to be names that few have ever heard of, places like Bassum, Helsa, Nittendorf-Etterzhausen or Nortorf. But periodically such small towns in Germany find their way into the headlines due to a peculiar characteristic they share: They are, or were until recently, on the list of communities that never withdrew honorary citizenship from Adolf Hitler once the Third Reich came crashing down in 1945.
Adolf Hitler in Goslar in 1934.
Now, a new town has recently become the focus of unwanted attention as a result of its antiquated honorary citizenship rolls. Goslar, the hometown of Social Democratic Party head Sigmar Gabriel, is currently planning to finally revoke the honor it bestowed on the Führer back in the 1930s.
But should it? Gabriel, surprisingly, thinks the answer to that question should be no. In comments made recently, the center-left political leader said: "It is an attempt to whitewash something that can’t be whitewashed," he said. He added that he used to be in favor of removing Hitler from the honorary rolls, but that his views have changed. "Today, I think it is almost wrong to do that."
Gabriel’s comments reflect a surprising lack of consensus among German towns when it comes to dealing with the discovery that Honorary Citizen Adolf Hitler is still on the books. A total of around 4,000 German cities, towns and communities honored Hitler during the 12 years of Nazi rule. Most, however, removed his name immediately after Nazi Germany collapsed.
’Reflects the Times’
But not all. In March, for example, a historian in the town of Helsa, not far from Frankfurt, learned that the honor for Hitler had never been revoked. The municipal government acted quickly, and by April, his name had been removed.
Other towns, though, have elected to keep the Führer on the books. Lanskroun, for example, a once-German town that is now located in the Czech Republic chose not to revoke honorary citizenship for Hitler in 2007 with the mayor saying at the time: "It simply reflects the times back then."
Read the full article at: spiegel.de