Letter: No to Kohl

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I USUALLY agree with Neal Ascherson, who is excellent on European issues, but his item 'D-Day was for the liberty of all: the Germans should be there too' (13 March), was seriously adrift. He appears to have little understanding of the feelings of those who will make the pilgrimage to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

At the Abbaye d'Ardenne, three miles from Caen, more than a hundred Canadians were massacred by the Nazi Colonel Kurt Meyer after their capture. He served seven years for war crimes, and later returned to the Abbaye as a tourist, to brag about his deed to the locals. Such brutality, arrogance and lack of adequate justice by the War Crimes Tribunal are not easily forgotten.

My father is an active leading Canadian veteran, whose brother was killed at Caen. He and his comrades are unanimous that there should be no formal German representation at D-Day commemorations, a view shared by most British, American and French veterans. In any case, old Wehrmacht and SS men will be present among the spectators.

Many of the veterans also resent the presence at these ceremonies of so many strutting European and North American politicians, attempting to bolster their often flagging prestige at home, but at least they represent countries which resisted the fascists.

The presence of German politicians, and possibly former SS men in dress uniform, would be the last straw. Chancellor Kohl should be sensitive enough to understand this.

No, Neal, let us be more tolerant of the memories of those who fought to bring about a mostly peaceful Europe, where we can now discuss anything we like.

Ian McDonald