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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

American comes face to face with Nazi who signed family death warrant

The world's leading Nazi hunter has described as “sheer nonsense” the attempt by an American man to sue a former assistant of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

Mark Gould (43) went under-cover in Germany’s neo-Nazi scene to meet and befriend Bernhard Frank, a 97-year-old former SS lieutenant colonel in Himmler’s office.

Mr Gould accuses Mr Frank of responsibility for the murder of countless Jews in the Holocaust, including some of his relatives. He claims Mr Frank’s signature can be found on an order from Himmler from July 28th, 1941, for the mass execution of Jews on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

The order contains the sentence “if the population is of lesser racial or human value . . . then all are to be shot” – something Mr Gould suggests is the first written proof of the looming genocide.

He has filed a civil suit against Mr Frank in Washington, claiming he was responsible under the 1941 order for the resulting attack on Ukrainian village Korets in which members of his family perished.

Talking to Bild tabloid yesterday about his undercover investigation, Mr Gould said he spent four years pretending to be a wealthy neo-Nazi from the US.

He filmed many lengthy interviews with Mr Frank, in one of which, in halting English, he can be heard saying: “With Himmler I had a very good relationship, he loved me, and I can only say he was a good man.”

Eventually Mr Gould confronted the elderly man, telling him he was his enemy. “My enemy, why?” asked Mr Frank.

“Because you killed my family,” replied Mr Gould.

The work of Mr Gould has its defenders, including Stephen Smith, founder of Britain’s Holocaust Centre, but others have questioned his self-styled crusade.

Mr Gould, a former trader of Nazi memorabilia, is not Jewish; the family that perished may have been relations of the Jewish man his mother later married.

Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem suggests Mr Gould is a self-promoter, pointing to a pending book and film deal. He describes Mr Frank as a “glorified proof-reader” in Himmler’s office and describes his continued belief in Nazi ideology as irrelevant for a prosecution.

The 97-year-old man lives in Frankfurt, he has never hidden from view, is known to German prosecutors and even published his autobiography five years ago.

“Gould is claiming Bernhard Frank is the guy who started the Holocaust, which is sheer nonsense,” said Mr Zuroff.

Irish Times


Mikael Svensson, a Sweden Democrat (SD) serving on Burlöv municipal council in southern Sweden, has resigned his post after being convicted of assaulting a woman in the face with a motorcycle helmet.

Svensson handed in his resignation on Monday following a conviction for assault last week when he was sentenced to probation and community service, reported the local Sydsvenskan daily. Despite insisting as late as Friday that he would remain in his post, Svensson handed in his resignation to the council on Monday following internal party discussion over the weekend. "We have discussed within the party, since he was convicted for this incident, that he should resign his post in the council and that he has agreed to do," said Lennart Glans of Burlöv Sweden Democrats to the newspaper.

The incident in question occurred in September 2010 outside Mikael Svensson's home in Arlöv. According to the police report of the incident, Svensson was helping someone park their car on the street when the 30-year-old woman sounded her car horn, at which point he pulled open her car door and assaulted her with his motorcycle helmet. The report detailed that the woman sustained redness and bruising. Svensson furthermore hit the car so hard with his helmet that it sustained damage. Mikael Svensson has denied the charges and indicated that he is considering an appeal of the district court ruling.

The Local Sweden


An open jury trial over the 2009 twin killing of lawyer and rights activist Stanislav Markelov and liberal Novaya Gazeta reporter Anastasia Baburova started in the Moscow City Court on Monday, Interfax reported. Alleged ultranationalists Nikita Tikhonov, 30, and Yevgenia Khasis, 25, are charged over the attack, but plead not guilty to murder charges. The 34-year-old Markelov, who often represented victims of ultranationalists' attacks in court, was gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Moscow. Baburova was shot dead when she tried to stop the attacker. Markelov represented the mother of Alexander Ryukhin, an activist fighting hate crime in Moscow, who was shot dead in 2006, anti-xenophobia watchdog Sova reported. Tikhonov was one of the people charged in the case.

Several neo-Nazi attackers were convicted over Ryukhin's death in a 2007 trial, but Tikhonov escaped arrest and went into hiding. He was detained along with his girlfriend, Khasis, in 2009, months after Markelov's shooting. The two requested sanction to marry while in pretrial detention, but the investigators denied the request, allegedly believing it an attempt by suspects to gain good publicity ahead of the trial. Tikhonov, who was on the run from the law over Ryukhin's murder, admitted Monday to charges of use of forged documents and illegal firearms possession, but denied killing the lawyer and the reporter. Tikhonov also admitted that he had no alibi for the day of the 2009 shooting, but said killing Markelov was pointless, because charges in Ryukhin's murder were levied by police, not the lawyer.

The Moscow Times

Cameron says UK prejudiced for believing Muslims cannot manage democracy (UK)

Prime minister will tell Kuwait national assembly that Britain was wrong to prop up 'highly controlling regimes' as way of ensuring stability.

Britain has been guilty of a prejudice bordering on racism for believing that Muslims cannot manage democracy, David Cameron will say as he recasts foreign policy in light of protests across the Arab world.

In a speech at the national assembly in Kuwait, the prime minister will abandon decades of so-called "camel corps" diplomacy by saying Britain was wrong to prop up "highly controlling regimes" as a way of ensuring stability.

Cameron – who is facing anger in the UK for placing defence exports at the heart of his long-planned visit to the Gulf – will use the speech to show that Britain is promoting political reform in the region.

The prime minister, who attended a ceremony in Kuwait with Sir John Major to mark the 20th anniversary of the first Gulf war, said: "Now, once again, this region is the epicentre of momentous changes, but pursued in a very different way. History is sweeping through your neighbourhood."

Cameron, who on Monday visited the scene of the demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, said the protests had highlighted a hunger for freedom across the Middle East.

He depicted the protests as "movements of the people" that were not ideological or extremist.

But he indicated that the demonstrations presented a challenge for Britain as he dismissed as a "false choice" the old calculation that authoritarian regimes needed to be supported as the price of ensuring stability.

"For decades, some have argued that stability required controlling regimes and that reform and openness would put that stability at risk," Cameron said.

"So, the argument went, countries like Britain faced a choice between our interests and our values. And to be honest, we should acknowledge that sometimes we have made such calculations in the past."

He added: "But I say that is a false choice. As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability – rather, the reverse."

The prime minister said Britain and other western countries cannot impose any democratic model on the Arab world, but stressed: "That's not an excuse, as some would argue, to claim that Arabs or Muslims can't do democracy – the so-called Arab exception.

"For me, that's a prejudice that borders on racism. It's offensive and wrong and it's simply not true."

Cameron's speech has been designed to lay to rest decades of British foreign policy which held that authoritarian regimes in the Gulf must be supported to guarantee stability. The strongest example is Britain's close relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister will not be visiting Saudi Arabia during his three-day tour of the Gulf. This is because King Abdullah is in poor health and not because Cameron wants to distance the UK from the kingdom.

He is also distancing himself from US neocons who believe democracy can be imposed.

Cameron outlined his thinking on this issue on Monday in Cairo, when he said: "Democracy is an important part of our foreign policy.

"But I am not a naive neocon who thinks you can drop democracy out of an aeroplane at 40,000ft or that, simply by holding an election, you have satisfied the needs of democracy. You have had plenty of elections in Egypt, but that does not mean you have had a functioning democracy."

He developed this theme in his speech at the Kuwaiti national assembly in which he said the "building blocks" of democracy – an independent judiciary, free media and a "proper place" for the army – had to be laid with care.

"Democracy is the work of patient craftmanship – it has to be built from the grassroots up," he said. "It can't be done overnight."

The prime minister outlined his approach to foreign policy in Kuwait because Britain believes its national assembly is a strong example of democracy in the Gulf.

Its 50 members are elected by universal suffrage, though the majority of the population, many of whom come from the Indian sub-continent, do not have the vote. There are four woman members.

The Kuwaiti prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, who was summoned for a grilling last year, only survived a confidence vote by 25 votes to 23.

The Guardian