Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis

Bonn data laws prevent release of Waffen SS names

Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 14:00:43 PST

BONN, Germany (Reuter) - Germany said Thursday strict laws on data protection would prevent it from meeting a request by a Jewish group to release names of Waffen SS veterans who live in Britain and the United States but get German disability pensions.

The World Jewish Congress had called on Bonn to publish the names of former members of Hitler's elite multinational force receiving a German pension so investigators could check if they entered the United States illegally or were wanted for war crimes.

``Passing on names and information is not compatible with our data protection laws,'' said a spokesman for the German Labor Ministry, which has responsibility for pensions.

But the spokesman sought to reassure Jewish groups concerned war criminals could be spending a carefree retirement financed by the German government, saying any application for a pension was checked with Nazi-hunting centers and archives in Germany.

The war pensions are paid only to soldiers whose health was damaged as they served the Third Reich, or to their spouses.

The New York-based WJC believed the fact former Waffen SS members were receiving German pensions could make it easier to trace and check up on those living in Britain and the United States.

Bonn's payments to Waffen SS veterans came under the microscope earlier this year, when the opposition Greens party submitted a parliamentary question on the matter.

``Before any payment abroad is granted, an examination takes place to ascertain if the applicant took part in any crimes against humanity,'' the ministry said in its reply last month.

It said checks were made with various centers including the center for the investigation of Nazi war crimes in Ludwigsburg.

The Waffen SS was Hitler's multinational brigade with units drawn from Germany, the Baltic states and Ukraine. It had 165,000 members in 1941, but by the war's end there were some 800,000 men in 40 divisions, mostly on the eastern front.

Waffen SS units were directly involved in some of the worst atrocities and mass killings of the war.

The WJC said it was outrageous that former Waffen SS men in the United States were receiving pensions directly from Germany while Holocaust survivors had to prove they had been in a concentration camp for at least six months to qualify for German reparations.

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