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Kohl Calls for Probe into Nazi Past of Bitburg Region District Administrator Who is to Participate I

May 3, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Chancellor Helmut Kohl today hastily called for an investigation into the Nazi past of Fritz-Rudolph Gasper, the district administrator of the Bitburg region, who is scheduled to participate with Kohl and President Reagan in the wreath-laying ceremonies at the Bitburg war cemetery Sunday.

Kohl acted after Deputy Foreign Minister Alois Mertes informed him that he had received information from the Jewish community in Bonn that Gasper had been an SS member. Gasper later confirmed this. In a telephone interview he said he was recruited into the Waffen SS on June 1, 1943 with the rank of “Untersharffuehrer”, the equivalent of sergeant.

He also confirmed that before that he had been a member of the Hitler Jugend. But, according to Gasper, a de-Nazification court in Koblenz issued him a certificate on November 25, 1948 attesting that he had been forced to join the SS, The certificate has been sent to the Chancellory here for further study to confirm Gasper’s claim.

Gasper, who is 60, served in a Waffen-SS tank unit known as “Hitlerjugend.” Members of that division will be among the 1,000 former SS officers who will be holding a reunion in the Bavarian town of Nesselwang tomorrow.

Gasper denied that his unit participated in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes in December 1944 during which Waffen SS massacred more than 100 disarmed and bound U.S. prisoners of war. He said it was stationed south of Warsaw at that time. The Waffen SS men buried at Bitburg took part in the Battle of the Bulge.


In another development today, a group of German Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians and scholars has urged Chancellor Kohl and Reagan not to visit the Bitburg cemetery Sunday. In a letter to the two leaders, the group said the visit would amount to an act of “suppression of German history” and would add to the sufferings of Nazi victims. Among the signatories were Helmut Gollwitzer of Berlin and Dorothee Soelle of Hamburg.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Peter Boenisch said today that Kohl and Reagan, at their first private meeting, confirmed their intention to go to Bitburg in order to focus on the development of democracy in Europe since the end of World War II and German-American friendship.

According to Boenisch, Reagan told Kohl that the American people and government have rejected the thesis of collective guilt and that this goes back to the time of the Nuremburg war crimes trials.

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