What would Diana say, unamused Germany asks 'disgusting' Harry

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The Independent Online

Germany was plainly not amused yesterday by Prince Harry's decision to attend a fancy-dress party clad in the uniform of a Second World War Nazi Afrika Corps soldier with a swastika armband.

Germany was plainly not amused yesterday by Prince Harry's decision to attend a fancy-dress party clad in the uniform of a Second World War Nazi Afrika Corps soldier with a swastika armband.

The country's tabloid newspapers all carried front-page photographs of the Prince in what was described as his "El Alamein look", and heaped scorn on him and the British people for being ignorant of the Holocaust and treating the Third Reich as a joke.

"The little Prince has shocked the world," said the mass-circulation Bild newspaper. "Nazi Harry - What would Diana have said about this?"

A vitriolic article by the paper's regular commentator, Franz Josef Wagner, which was addressed to the Prince in person added: "You, hip and cool with a swastika on your arm at your party, are about as disgusting as a mouldy piece of food. I vomit. It is high time that you were given serious medical treatment. You are a traumatised child."

Berlin's more heavyweight Der Tagesspiegel newspaper noted admonishingly that an opinion poll yesterday by Britain's Sky News, had revealed that most of the British considered the Prince's antics a "bit of harmless fun", and only 30 per cent viewed his behaviour a serious insult to the victims of the Holocaust

"Harry has become the sad victim of a British sense of humour which is driven by a cynical sense of fun regarding Germany's Nazi past," the paper added.

There was no official comment from the German government, although senior officials including Joschka Fischer, the Foreign Minister, have made it clear on several occasions that they are fed up with British jokes about the Germans "all being Nazis". But a revealing article by Der Spiegel's London correspondent, Matt-hias Matussek, the brother of Thomas Matussek, the German ambassador to London, implied that the official German view of the Prince's behaviour and British attitudes to the Germans was not exactly rosy.

"Prince Harry is not shocking," Matussek wrote. "What is shocking is what he represents. According to recent opinion polls, more than half of Britain's young people have not the faintest idea what Auschwitz was all about even though television shows documentaries about the Second World War every other night.

"Apparently, the British have forgotten about the victims of the Nazis more completely than the Germans; but in Britain the Germans have always been a part of everyday life as Nazi caricatures to be scorned at will. Sixty years after the end of the war, 10-year-old German children are hunted down in the parks of London for being Krauts."

Der Spiegel also published a second article giving a rundown on the background to Prince Harry's Afrika Corps outfit and claimed that, for the British, his get-up was a "hated uniform" because 35,000 British troops were killed by General Erwin Rommel's Afrika Corps in north Africa during the war.

The furore surrounding Prince Harry's uniform will doubtless be viewed with chagrin by German and British officials involved in an attempt to change British attitudes about Germany. Last year, the German government paid for British schoolteachers to visit Berlin where they were shown by their German counterparts how the Nazi era was dealt with in the classroom. The British embassy in Berlin and the German government also have a scheme which encourages young people in both countries to participate in an SMS "phone pal" network.

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