East Berlin Ready to Confess and Condemn Nazism on Its Own

The head of the East German delegation to talks with Israel said Wednesday that East Berlin is now ready to condemn Nazism as a special form of fascism.

Reiner Neumann, who heads his country’s delegation to talks with Israeli diplomats in Copenhagen, told the official East German news agency ADN that the remark on Nazism was included in a letter he delivered last week from Prime Minister Hans Modrow to his Israeli counterpart, Yitzhak Shamir.

In the letter, Modrow said his country recognized its special responsibility toward Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and that it was ready to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

The talks marked the first since the Holocaust that East Germany admitted being accountable for German atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews.

Neumann said that the Israeli side to the talks insisted on the distinction and the condemnation. Until now, East Germany never referred to Nazis but used, instead, the term “fascism” to describe the Nazis.

The East Germans also customarily omitted specific reference to the persecution of Jews, stressing instead that Communists were among the first victims of the “fascists.”

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