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Germany

Historians to Explore Ministry's Nazi Past

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has appointed an international team of five historians to examine the Nazi past of his ministry, a spokesman said Monday. The three Germans, an American and an Israeli will meet at the beginning of September to determine their pattern of work, expected to last between three and five years. The aim is to produce at the end of it an account of the exact role of the ministry between the arrival in power of Hitler in 1933 and the defeat of Germany in 1945. The scholars, Klaus Hildebrand (University of Bonn), Eckart Conze (University of Marburg), Norbert Frei (University of Jena), Henry Turner (Yale) und Moshe Zimmermann (Hebrew University Jerusalem) should also report on the degree to which diplomats from the Nazi era were reemployed after the war. The decision to set up the committee was made in the spring and followed a controversy at the ministry over tributes paid on their deaths to all diplomats, which included former Nazis who had later worked for the West German diplomatic service. Ministry staff have given the project their "wide backing." Fischer had decided to do away with posthumous tributes to ex-Nazi staff after discovering in 2003 a death announcement in an internal newsletter paying homage to former Consul-General Franz Nüsslein, without mentioning he had been a Nazi prosecutor. When some ministry staff protested Fischer decided to end all posthumous tributes and just publish death announcements in the staff newsletter.

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