NEW YORK (Jun. 2)
Otto Remer, the former commander of Adolf Hitler’s Berlin headquarters and prominent neo-Nazi leader after World War II, was arrested this week at the Malaga airport in southern Spain.
Remer was arrested on a German extradition order issued after he fled Germany two months ago before he was to begin a 22-month prison term for Holocaust denial.
A Spanish judge later changed the detention order to house arrest due, at least in part, to the 81-year-old Remer’s state of health.
The wheelchair-boudn Remer was arrested Wednesday, accompanied by his wife and an interpreter, as they were about to board a plane for Madrid.
On Wednesday, Spain’s public prosecutor asked that the imprisonment order against Remer be dropped entirely and that he be freed because Holocaust denial is not a crime in Spain.
Remer, who has a house in Marbella on the southern coast of Spain, has been seeking political asylum in Spain.
As well-known as Remer was during the Nazi era, when he was commander of a crack Nazi guard battalion and was instrumental in breaking the plot to assassinate Hitler, he became even more notorious afterward with his high-profile promotion of racial hatred and of what has become known in Germany as the “Auschwitz lie.”
Neo-Nazis look upon Remer as “a role model, a star, an elder statesman,” said Aaron Breitbart, senior researcher for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
‘MAJOR-LEAGUE, UNREPENTANT NAZI’
Besides helping to destroy the conspiracy by some German officers to kill Hitler, Remer “was also wounded about eight times in battle and received awards from Hitler himself,” Breitbart said.
“You are dealing with a major-league, unrepentant Nazi. I would put him in the same category as Leon Degrelle, a Belgian Nazi who died recently in Spain,” Breitbart said. “After the war, these men gave their bodies and souls to the operation of Nazi apologists.”
In 1950, he said, Remer created the neo-Nazi Socialist Reich Party in Germany and “polled about 360,000 votes in a local election in Lower Saxony,” Breitbart said.
“He got himself in trouble because he heaped a tremendous amount of abuse on the anti-Nazi resistance.
“He said that they were a stain on the honor of Germany, that they had stabbed Germany in the back,” he added.
In 1952, he was sentenced to three months in prison for libeling the resistance.
“But he fled the country and never served the time, according to Breitbart.
“He resurfaced in Egypt, where he called upon Germans of similar background to help create a strong Arab army to fight international Jewry,” Breitbart added.
“We don’t have him down as a war criminal per se,” said Breitbart. “His criminal activities begin after the war.”