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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 11:38 GMT
Protest fears over war crimes exhibition
Photographs in the
New exhibition: 'Less reliant on photo evidence'
Rob Broomby

A controversial exhibition is reopening in Berlin, dealing with the role of German servicemen in war crimes during World War II.

The original Wehrmacht exhibition opened in Hamburg in March 1995.

It shocked many visitors as it challenged the long-held belief in Germany that the army, unlike the SS, were not responsible for Nazi atrocities, particularly on the eastern front.

The exhibition was engulfed in a series of rows over its accuracy and was eventually withdrawn.

The extreme right-wing NPD has already called a protest march against the exhibition on Saturday

Members of Germany's far-right National Democratic Party are expected to repeat their demonstrations against the exhibition at the weekend.

The Wehrmacht exhibition shocked the German public. Never had such a convincing argument been presented appearing to prove that ordinary soldiers, and not just Hitler's elite SS, were responsible for Nazi atrocities.

But protests from conservative and extreme right-wing parties in 1997 raised questions about the allegations, and eventually historians joined the critics.

'More painful'

It emerged that some of the photos appearing to show victims of the German army actually showed Soviet atrocities.

Jan Philipp Reemtsma, head of the Institute for Social Research
Mr Reemtsma says there is no change in the thesis

A panel of historians eventually backed the critics, describing the exhibition as unprofessional, and it was closed down.

Jan Philipp Reemtsma, the tobacco magnate and head of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research behind the project, says those hoping the new exhibition would restore the reputation of the armed forces will find the second more painful than the first.

He said there was no change in the thesis, but that the new exhibition would rely less on photographs and more on documentation.

The new multi-media exhibition is twice the size of the old. The extreme right-wing NPD has already called a protest march against the exhibition on Saturday.

Angry counter-demonstrations are expected.

See also:

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Neo-Nazis battle with opponents
30 Aug 01 | Europe
Swiss come clean on Nazi dealings
27 Jan 00 | Europe
Focus on Holocaust memorial
09 Sep 01 | Europe
Berlin's Jewish Museum opens
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