Memorial, Rally Mark World War II Anniversary
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ A memorial to Nazi war deserters was unveiled in Goettingen on Saturday while activists gathered on the former ″death strip″ in Berlin during events to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.
Ironically, the day noting the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland also coincided with tougher rules for Poles and other former East Bloc citizens seeking to visit West Berlin.
In one of the few events to acknowledge the anniversary, the first official West German monument to those who fled the Nazi Army was dedicated in Goettingen, about 110 miles northeast of Frankfurt.
Goettingen Mayor Artur Levi said men who deserted the Nazi military were unfairly forgotten and whose ″love for the fatherland knew no limits.″ The granite memorial contains a mutilated swastika, a symbol of the Nazi regime.
In Berlin, several hundred church, environmental and peace activists gathered on Potsdamer Platz, a former main square in pre-war Berlin that was reduced to the barren ″death strip″ after the Berlin Wall was erected.
The group laid the cornerstone of a building they hoped would be called ″European House,″ devoted to peaceful cooperation between European nations.
A small group of peace activists also rallied in the East German city of Weimar, the center of German culture in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Weimar Republic, named for the city, governed Germany from the end of World War I until the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.
On Saturday, tougher West Berlin visa requirements for Eastern European residents went into effect.
Visitors now must have a written invitation from somebody living in the city, a hotel reservation and adequate amounts of Western currency.
West Berlin has been the only Western city where Poles could travel with no restrictions. They converge on the city in large numbers to buy goods scarce in their country.
″We are going to protest and defend Polish citizens’ rights with all means we have,″ said Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Witold Gruszka in Warsaw on Saturday.
The rules were approved by the United States, France and Britain, which still have final say over many of the laws passed in West Berlin.
The German states are scheduled to be united Oct. 3, when the former World War II allies are to give up their special rights to Berlin.
Also Saturday, East German Defense Minister Rainer Eppelmann was quoted as saying that Soviet troops should leave the country more quickly than the four- year timetable agreed to by the Soviets.
Eppelmann, quoted by the East Berlin newspaper Berliner Zeitung, said four years is too long.