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Germany

German Diplomats Fight Over Obituaries

More than 70 German diplomats have signed a petition to protest Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer banning internal death notices that honor colleagues with Nazi pasts, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung weekly. Another group of ministry workers, however, declared their support for Fischer's move in a letter to the editor of the internal newsletter where the obituaries are printed, saying that the change was overdue, AP reported. The debate was sparked after the newsletter published a death notice for a deceased diplomat who had been a member of the Nazi party and worked as a senior prosecutor in many cases in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Fischer decided in Sept. 2003 that the newsletter's death notices should only list the deceased's career in the ministry as well as funeral information. "Honorific obituaries in this and comparable cases could rightly cause misunderstanding and outrage at home and abroad and would lend themselves to damaging the reputation of the foreign ministry and Germany," Fischer wrote in an internal memo.

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