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Germany

Germany in Brief

Train-crash lawsuit may be heading for an early end; Adolf Hitler's "diaries" have an anniversary.

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Rescue workers used a crane to dig out the wreckage in Eschede in June 1998.

The lawsuit over the death of 101 people in Germany's worst train accident in its postwar history may be dropped. In June of 1998, a German Rail high-speed train jumped the tracks while passing through the small town of Eschede in northern Germany. The judge set to hear the case, Michael Dölp, set a hearing date in the city of Hanover "in order to discuss further proceedings," according to news reports on Friday. While a spokesperson for the court did not acknowledge the planned meeting, sources inside the court said signs seem to point to the lawsuit being dropped. A guilty verdict seems unlikely despite the testimony of a number of expert witnesses, people close to the case said.

Twenty years ago today, the German news magazine Stern saw its circulation jump 25 percent with a cover story that shocked the nation: it claimed to have discovered a set of some sixty secret diaries written by Adolf Hitler. Two weeks later, the diaries were exposed as a "grotesquely superficial forgery" by government investigators. The magazine -- which said it could prove the veracity of the diaries -- immediately lost much of its reputation and circulation. The crisis took it and its publisher, Gruner + Jahr, years to overcome. Both the forger and the reporter who discovered the diaries received prison sentences in the case.

A 29-year-old mother has confessed to killing three of her young daughters between 1993 and 2001. The woman, from near the southern city of Constance, said she killed two of her daughters shortly after they were born. At her urging, a third daughter was killed by the girl's father. He is serving an eight-year prison sentence after being convicted by a court in January. The woman said her motive in all cases was fear of losing custody of the children to child protective services. "I didn't want them to take (the children) away," she said in court. "The emotions in me forced me to do it." A sentence in the case is expected in mid-May.