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Munich Court Revokes Army Order Dismissing Five Officer Trainees Involved in Anti-semitic Incident

A Munich court has temporarily revoked an army order dismissing five officer trainees for their involvement in an anti-Semitic incident early last year. Meanwhile, five fellow officer trainees at a Munich military academy have handed their superiors a memorandum accusing both the West German Defense Minister Georg Leber and the leadership of the academy of “overreacting.”

The five, who were dismissed for participation in a mock “Jew-burning” ceremony, will as a result of the court decision, regain their status and pay as soldiers until the court reaches a final decision on the legality of the dismissal orders which they are contesting. But they are still subject to a ban on participation in normal army activities which was issued prior to the dismissals. Another court in Cologne has refused to reinstate a sixth dismissed trainee who made a similar application.

In their memorandum, the five trainees said they had no wish to condone the behavior of the six, and “strongly condemned” the February 1977 incident. However, they felt the six had merely shown “a gross lack of historical consciousness and responsibility,” which could have been remedied by “educative measures” rather than dismissal.

The authors of the memorandum accused the army of being concerned solely with protecting its public image. The “older generation” had overreacted because it had itself failed to come to grips with “questions of historic guilt,” and had neglected the education of young people in this respect, the memorandum stated.