The silly season is never complete without a few Nazi stories and this Summer has been no different. Apart from the revelatory sort of stories carried by the redtops - that the Archbishop of Canterbury's uncle was an SS Colonel for example, or that Kate Middleton's great aunt was Himmler's mistress* - are those more serious stories that continue to pose moral questions.
The first is what Germany should do about the crumbling Nuremberg stadium, background to Leni Riefenstahl's 1934 'Triumph of the Will', a film still banned in Germany, by the way, though presumably Germans may watch it as freely as we can on Youtube. Stripped of its swastikas after the war, the stadium continues to serve as a useful large public space, but no-one has been brave enough to maintain the Nazi-era stonework. Now they're agonising over whether government money should be spent to preserve it.
Secondly is the row around a German pulp magazine entitled Der Landser, or roughly 'The Squaddie'. Published since 1957, the mag carries stories of Wehrmacht battles, fights and general soldiering from the ranks, showing the rough humour, kameraderie and essential humanity of members of the Heer, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine as members of the international brotherhood of coarse soldiery, but without overtly glorifying Nazism or risking a breach of Germany's draconian anti-Nazi laws. The mag's owner, the Bauer Media Group, which also publishes Kerrang!, Bella and Take a Break, is in the process of taking over Absolute radio - formerly Virgin radio - but an appeal has been made to Ofcom from Bruce Fireman (and unidentified backers?) to halt the takeover whilst Der Landser is published.
Thirdly is a row about this September's 'Homecoming' remembrance ceremony held by Austrian former Wehrmacht members in a ruined church on the Ulrichsberg in Kärnten. The site is isolated, the roads are poor and the old boys aren't quite as quick on their feet as they were in '39 - '45, and so in years past the Austrian Army has laid on transport and assistance, provided a band and some uniformed senior officers, whilst the local Councils have provided grant funding to the organisers, the Ulrichsberggemeinschaft. In 2012 the organisers invited a former Waffen-SS member to speak, the first time the ceremony had been opened to this organisation banned as 'criminal' by the Nuremberg court. As a result, this year the funding has been withdrawn and the Bundesheer instructed not to assist. The blow falls hardest on those old Landser, much diminished in number, who don't have that many more remembrance days left. From 1957 Germany allowed the wearing of '39 - '45 military gallantry and bravery awards as long as the swastikas were removed, and these old chaps wear their iron crosses, combat infantry clasps and wound badges with pride.
Not easy, is it?
* Neither true, as far as I know