Zunächst hatte ich nur einen Artikel aus der Zeitschrift Ossietzky verlinkt. Dann wollte ich nachschauen, ob mein Blog-Beitrag über die Hexenverehrung in Buxtehude bereits von google gespidert wäre, als ich auf einen ominösen englischsprachigen Link stieß. Darin geht es um eben die angerissene Geschichte. Der Link belegt, dass die Zeiten endgültig abgelaufen sind, in denen man damals noch in Buxtehude (und nicht nur dort) lebte.
„Öffentlichkeit“ hieß für die Herrschaften der Estestadt „Verlautbarung“ und „Publikation im Lokalanzeiger“. Mochte auch noch so viel auf den Straßen geratscht werden – was nicht in der Zeitung stand, gab es nicht, und nur, was dort zu lesen war, sollte von Gewicht sein. Mit Demokratie hatte das nie etwas zu tun, wer aber hätte den Herren die Suppe versalzen können mangels Produktionsmitteln? Das Internet hingegen braucht kein Papier, keine Druckmaschinen, keinen Vertrieb.
Die PDF-Datei, die mit besagtem Link heruntergeladen wird, enthält eine 2008 an der University of Salford in Manchester von Mark James Barnard eingereichte Doktorarbeit: „The Past becomes the Present. German National Identity and Memory since Reunification“.
Über Buxtehude heißt es darin:
Exponent further divisions between official and popular perceptions of the Wehrmacht was the dispute between the authorities and citizens of the north German town of Buxtehude, situated west of Hamburg, concerning a commemorative plaque.
Celebrating the surrender of the town and its barracks to the British in April 1945, in May 2003 a commemorative stone was set honouring the German officers whose actions prevented the bloodshed of German soldiers and civilians.
Survivors of the Second World War Hans-Georg Freudenthal, Richert Rischkau, Jiirgen Schwarz, Hans-Peter Berger and Bodo Klages had been waiting many years for a monument to the salvation of their „fairy-tale town“ of Buxtehude. According to the Stade branch of the Union of Anti-Fascists (VVN-BdA) and local newspaper the Buxtehuder Tageblatt, the initial inscription on the memorial stone read:
„On the 22 April 1945 the barracks and town of Buxtehude were handed over peacefully to British troops. With great risk to their lives, rear admiral Siegfried Engel, captains Alexander Magnus, Hans Haverkamp and lieutenant Karl Halaski successfully prevented civilian casualties and the destruction of the town.“
Following Internet allegations from the Independent Perspective Communication web site (PUK) and Stade VVN-BdA that the officers were guilty of war crimes, however, two weeks after the official unveiling, the plaque was removed.
During his capacity as Second Admiral of the North Sea between 1943 and 1945, rear admiral Siegfried Engel was alleged to have sentenced 54 German naval deserters to death. Another, sea captain Alexander Magnus, was accused of having procured transport for the deportation of Jews from Corfu and having been involved in the execution of ten hostages in Greece during 1944.
„It was on those grounds that investigations were renewed“, noted the Stade branch of the VVN-BdA. „Should research reveal sufficient evidence for the allegations, then the stone must be removed“, announced the Head of the local SPD faction, Hans-Uwe Hansen.
When the allegations of misconduct against the officers were first investigated in 2000, head of the town archives, Bernd Utermöhlen, reported there was nothing against the four officers in question. Apparently upholding the reputation of the officers, Utermöhlen stated: „The town cannot act merely on the claims of a few newspaper articles.“
Under pressure from the local authorities, however, Utermöhlen reluctantly resumed research on whether there was actually anything to incriminate the officers. Along with Buxtehude archives, Hans-Peter Berger also opposed calls for a critical reappraisal of the Wehrmacht. „This commemoration is about former events in Buxtehude and not about a reappraisal of the Second World War. That belongs to other places“, stated the head of Buxtehude’s regional development agency.
As far as the federal archives and the local mainstream parties in Buxtehude were concerned, this apparent acceptance of past events and commemoration of those involved was unacceptable. Commenting on developments in May 2003, local SPD representative Hans-Uwe Hansen declared: „What I find particularly disturbing is that a memorial plaque bears the name of suspected war criminals.“
According to the Buxtehuder Tageblatt and the Stade VVN-BdA, local Chairman of the Alliance 90/The Greens, Joachim Buttler, was also „on the same wavelength as Hansen“. Critical of any memorial to former combatants, Buttler argued that: „Having a memorial stone for war criminals serves no purpose, irrespective of whether the officers were on the right side in the end or not.“
Head of the CDU Party Uwe Hampe was more cautious in passing judgement on the conduct of the officers: „We only form our opinions in the context of a political party“, stated Hampe. Disputing the initial findings of Buxtehude archives, „further examination had revealed that two of the four officers in question were guilty of war crimes“, announced the Mayor of Buxtehude Jurgen Badur.
In 2000, a branch of the federal archives was set up in Ludwigsburg for the express purpose of the elucidation, ease of access and permanent preservation of documents of the Landesjustizverwaltungen or Federal Central Administration Offices. Established in 1958 under chief National Socialist prosecutor of the SS death squads, or Einsatzgruppen, Erwin Schule, the Zentralstelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg was responsible for the co-ordination of reports documenting allegations of National Socialist crimes from across Germany.
Concerning the allegations of involvement in war crimes against the Buxtehude officers, documents from the Landesjustizverwaltungen (Federal Central Administrative Offices) confirmed that sea commandant for West Greece, Alexander Magnus, had actively participated in the deportation of the Jewish population of Corfu in 1944. On receipt of this information, Mayor Jurgen Badur ordered the removal of all names from the plaque.
According to the Buxtehuder Tageblatt and the Stade VVN-BdA, even before the allegations were confirmed, chief representatives from three of the main local parties were demanding the removal of the plaque. Along with Hansen (SPD) and Buttler (Alliance 90/The Greens), on account of the questionable conduct of the officers, Chairman of the Buxtehude FDP, Rudolf Fischer, also insisted on the removal of the plaque „as soon as possible“.
Although the town council agreed in essence to the retention of a memorial stone. „A future plaque cannot bear the names of the officers involved in the capitulation of the town“, noted Jurgen Badur. „Drawing a line under the past“, according to the Buxtehuder Tageblatt, the citizens of Buxtehude had refused to pay for any stone without an inscription.
Along with others in Germany, evidence suggested many in Buxtehude also rejected official allegations of the collective misconduct of the Wehrmacht Evidence during 2003 and 2004 indicated some in the town still wanted to honour those responsible for its peaceful capitulation. There were reports, for example, that Buxtehude was „A haven for the extreme right“, noted the Information Service Against Right-Wing Extremism (IDGR).
In 1999, 2001 and 2004, the Lower Saxon and Hamburg authorities also identified the town of Buxtehude as a centre for right-wing extremists. According to the Lower Saxon authorities, for example, along with Verden in 1999, Buxtehude was a main focal point for the activities of the youth wing of the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), the Young National Democrats (JN).
Owing to disruption from both Hamburg and local neo-Nazis, in January 2004 the panel discussion: Neo-fascism – a danger for society had to be abandoned. Local resident Heiko Tornow stated: „It is repulsive that people here want to honour those who have condemned people to death or been involved in the murder of hostages.“
Despite allegations of criminal behaviour by the Stade WN-BdA, Mayor of Buxtehude and local politicians against Engel, Magnus, Haverkamp and Halaski, according to the WN-BdA, Uwe Ruprecht and the Buxtehuder Tageblatt, the citizens of Buxtehude „hold the officers as heroes and want to remember them as such“.
There was still no proof of Engel’s responsibility for the passing of the 54 death sentences or the involvement of the officers Haverkamp and Halaski in war crimes, maintained Buxtehude City Archives and two local newspapers. Summarising the evidence to-date, Bernd Utermöhlen contended that neither Engel nor Magnus could be charged with war crimes in the strictest sense of the word, since both operated „within the code of established military practice“.
Obwohl die „Stade branch of the Union of Anti-Fascists“ mich inzwischen zum Neonazi erklärt hat, sind die oben zitierten, von mir geschriebenen und erstellten Seiten bis dato (August 2017) noch online. Eine Zusammenfassung der Geschehnisse findet sich auf stade.vvn-bda.de/bux02.
Die Geschichte, mit der die Geschichte umgeschrieben werden sollte, ist wenigstens so lange nicht vorbei, wie die oben am häufigsten erwähnte Person weiterhin am Geschichtsbild von Buxtehude maßgeblich mitmalt.