German Veterans' Day sparks concerns about honoring Nazis


Candles were lit in a symbolic tribute to the ten known victims of a neo-Nazi terrorist gang at an official memorial ceremony on Feb. 23, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.


Sean Gallup

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière has proposed a new holiday: Veterans’ Day. Germany has not had a holiday to honor its soldiers since the Third Reich fell in 1945, the Irish Times reported, and the country does not honor servicemen who died in World War I and World War II. Instead, on November 11th Germany observes Volkstrauertag, a day of mourning for people killed in war.

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Plans for the new Veterans' Day have sparked concerns that Germany would be honoring Nazis. "This would mean honoring those troops of both world wars who acted as aggressors - and in the case of the Nazis in World War 2 - often as criminals," the Daily Mail said

De Maizière proposed to set May 22 as the date of the holiday, honoring the anniversary of the establishment of the new German Army in 1956. However, May 22 is also the birthday of composer Richard Wagner, "who was adored by Hitler and whose music is perceived as an iconic Nazi soundtrack," Ynet reported

Other German political leaders have been strongly critical of the holiday. “If the defense minister wants to do something for former soldiers, he should get some money and improve their social security, instead of invoking some cheap ‘ideal honor,’" socialist Left party spokesman Paul Schäfer told The Local

Germany's first foreign military mission since World War II took place in 1991, the Daily Mail reported. Since then 300,000 German soldiers have fought abroad.