BERLIN (JTA) — Germany’s Foreign Ministry was deeply involved in planning and carrying out the Holocaust, a new study about the wartime history of the ministry reveals.
"The Service, and its Past" is to be officially handed to the Foreign Ministry and available to the public on Thursday. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of the Free Democratic Party already has said he will incorporate the study in the training of diplomats.
While similar projects have been undertaken by German industry, this one "proves the deep involvement of the Foreign Ministry … on many levels," Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said at a meeting this week of the European Council of Jewish Communities in Berlin.
Applauding the ministry’s readiness to confront its past, Knobloch added that "it is not our job to remind them" but rather to ensure that "the lessons of the past are applied to our problems today."
The Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee has called on Germany to incorporate the material in school curricula.
In a statement issued Tuesday, AJC-Berlin director Deidre Berger said "German pupils should now have a better possibility to understand the participation of one of the country’s top ministries in the Nazi regime.
"This impressive study expunges the myth about the supposedly widespread resistance movement within the Foreign Ministry during the Nazi era," Berger said.
The AJC had in the past raised objections to glossy official obituaries for Nazi-era diplomats.
Carried out by independent historians commissioned in 2005 by then-Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of the Green Party, the new study reveals among other things that the ministry spied on German Jews abroad and assisted Nazi officials to flee to South America and Arab countries to escape Allied justice.
Among the documents found by the authors — Eckart Conze and Norbert Frei of Germany, Peter Hayes of the United States and Moshe Zimmermann of Israel — was a report by a high-ranking diplomat with details about the extermination of Jews in Serbia.
Some German industry giants have sponsored unflattering studies of their wartime past in recent years, coinciding with pressure for compensation for slave labor.