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Germans Postpone World Wars Memorial

October 28, 2002

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JERUSALEM (AP) _ The German Embassy in Israel has postponed a memorial service to commemorate victims of the two world wars after a newspaper article said Nazi soldiers would be mourned at the event and the Israeli public complained.

The embassy said the report in the Haaretz newspaper was incorrect, and released a copy of a letter it sent to the newspaper expressing ``astonishment and disbelief″ at the article.

The Haaretz story, which appeared Sunday, said elite Nazi troops, the SS, would be honored at the ceremony originally to be held in November in the northern city of Nazareth.

``The German Embassy in Tel Aviv _ and for that matter, no German Embassy anywhere in the world _ will honor SS dead or hold an SS memorial ceremony,″ Embassy spokesman Reinhard Weimer wrote.

Still, Weimer said that the event had been postponed because of to the criticism it generated in Israel.

Haaretz reported that some Israelis invited to the memorial service, including retired army officers, had refused the invitation, thinking the ceremony would honor Nazi forces.

Several German soldiers from World War II, including Nazi spies executed by the British, are buried in Israel.

``The ceremonies on the day of national mourning do not glorify the fallen soldiers nor do they justify the cause they were fighting for,″ Wiemer wrote. ``The contrary is true: The spirit and purpose of this solemn day is to strengthen our determination of ‘never again’ and to foster reconciliation between former adversaries.″

``Symbolically this is expressed through participation in the ceremonies by all those who suffered _ survivors of the Holocaust, political prisoners and representatives of the Allied armies,″ he added.

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