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Controversy over Alleged Tribute to Dead Nazi War Hero

December 30, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A controversy is boiling in West Germany over an alleged Air Force salute to the late Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a World War II Luftwaffe ace and Nazi activist whose funeral, held at Dornhausen, Bavaria December 22, was attended by neo-Nazi leaders and disciples. Many of the thousands at Rudel’s burial displayed swastikas and gave the Nazi solute, acts barred by law in this country.

But the "scandal" was the flight of two U.S.-made Phantom jets over the cortege. The Defense Ministry insists they were on a routine training mission with the NATO allies. Eye-witnesses maintain that the German pilots clearly wanted to honor the man who was the Luftwaffe’s most decorated fighter pilot in World War II.

Media commentary has been largely critical of the authorities and of the right-wing activists who gave Rudel’s funeral the air of a state event. West German newspapers are now flooded with letters denouncing the critics and demanding why Germans should not have the right to honor a war hero.

A local newspaper in Nuremberg reported that hours before the funeral, two German Air Force jets flew over Dornhausen on courses which formed a cross in the sky with their exhaust streams. Meanwhile, the state prosecutor in the nearby town of Ansbach has opened an investigation of the persons who gave the Nazi salute at the funeral.

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