BONN (Apr. 11)
The Bavarian government has rejected mounting demands that it ban a gaint rally of former SS officers due to take place in a Bavarian town next month, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
Many organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish and Bundestag members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party, have urged a ban and have threatened to mount protests at the time. Even the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which has shown unseemly tolerance toward SS veterans’ rallies in the past, fears that this one will attract mass media attention unflattering to Germany’s image.
Thousands of German and foreign journalists will be covering the economic summit meeting in Bonn and President Reagan’s visit to West Germany next month.
But the Bavarian authorities say they cannot act. They point out that HIAG, the umbrella organization of SS veterans groups is not considered to be extremist and has no record of violating the law.
The rally is expected to attract more than 1,000 former SS officers — the largest of its kind ever held — who will meet in the context of their own observance of the end of World War II. The SS, which drew the most fanatic Nazis to its ranks, was one of the most hated and feared elements of the Third Reich, the defeat and destruction of which will be celebrated by the rest of the world next month.