PARIS (Nov. 28)
West Germany’s largest political party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), decided last night to back Bundestag President Carl Carstens for the office of President of the Federal Republic, notwithstanding his former membership in the Nazi Party and the dreaded SA. Carstens’ election, to replace incumbent President Walter Scheel, is thereby assured, according to reports from Bonn today. The public revelation earlier this month of Carstens’ past plunged the country into a political storm.
The West German President is elected by a joint session of the country’s upper and lower parliaments, both of which are controlled by the CDU. Carstens has also been promised the support of the Christian Socialists, the largest party in Bavaria.
The West German press, meanwhile, has dropped the issue of Carstens’ Nazi past which it had raised earlier this month, apparently satisfied that he had played a minor role with the Nazis and was granted party membership automatically without having applied for it.
Scheel himself told the daily Die Welt on Nov 11 that he too had been a member of the Nazi Party although he never applied for membership and had avoided playing an active role in party political affairs. Scheel is highly popular according to recent public opinion polls and is considered by most Germans to have been “a good President.” He has apparently helped convince public opinion that Carstens’ past should not bar him for the country’s top political office.