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Bonn Defends Proposing to Reagan That He Visit Military Cemetery

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Government spokesman Peter Boenisch said today that it was not important whether Chancellor Helmut Kohl knew or not that former Waffen SS soldiers were buried at the military cemetery of Bitburg when he proposed to President Reagan that he visit the site. (Late Washington story, P. 3.)

Answering questions on the TV “Tageschau” prime time news edition, Boenisch said that a cemetery is a site of reconciliation, and it was wrong to start splitting the dead into categories. “We are not going to start a de-Nazification process with the dead,” the government spokesman said.

Boenisch said that the Chancellor was not hurt by criticism from Israel or from the American Jewish community over his behavior concerning the President’s visit. The government spokesman pointed out that the Chancellor understands the difficulties of some people regarding the reconciliation process between Germany and its former enemies.

Boenisch pointed out that the intended purpose of Reagan’s visit was to concentrate on the future rather than to look only at Germany’s Nazi past. Alluding to a possible change of attitude, the government’s spokesman confirmed that Bonn and Washington were now talking about a possible visit by Reagan to the site of the former Dachau concentration camp near Munich. He rejected a reporter’s suggestion that Bonn should have insisted on such a visit in the first place.

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