STRASBOURG (Apr. 24)
A group of West European parliamentarians today accused President Reagan of “lumping the victims and their torturers together,” by combing a visit to the Bitburg military cemetery in West Germany where members of the notorious Waffen SS are buried and the former site of Bergen-Belsen where over 5,000 Jews were put to death. (See related stories, P.4.)
The statement was issued today by 34 Socialists, a French Communist and a Danish liberal, all members of the Council of the Parliament of Europe, a consultative body on which 21 Parliaments are represented.
The 36 parliamentarians recalled in their statement that the statute of limitations is not applicable to crimes against humanity such as those committed by the SS. They also called on Reagan to reconsider his decision so as not to “shock Western public opinion, particularly that of the survivors of Nazi persecutions.”
Reagan will pay a four-hour visit to Strasbourg on May 8 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Allied victory, during which he will address the 10-nation European Parliament. He is not scheduled to meet with the Council of Europe’s Assembly.
THE PRESS HAS PRACTICALLY LGNORED THE CONTROVERSY
With the exception of West Germany, the West European press has up till now practically ignored the controversy over Reagan’s forthcoming visit. Newspapers and television stations in half a dozen West European countries have reported the bare facts without any comment.
Several Jewish organizations have asked members of the European Parliament to condemn Reagan’s visit to Bitburg cemetery but have not yet succeeded in obtaining a group condemnation or an appeal for Reagan to reconsider. Parliamentary circles in Strasbourg believe, however, that a group of lawmakers will issue such an appeal before Reagan’s forthcoming visit.