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Russian Military Prosecutor’s Office refuses to rehabilitee former Abwerh general

November 11, 2014, 3:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW
In September this year, the Russian Military Prosecutor’s Office received a letter from a German-based Saxon Memorial public organization with a request to rehabilitate a man named Hans Piekenbrock
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MOSCOW, November 11 /TASS/. Russia’s Military Prosecutor’s Office has refused to rehabilitate German WWII General Hans Piekenbrock, the deputy head of the Abwerh military intelligence organization of Nazi Germany, Russia’s Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said in an interview to be published by the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily on Tuesday.

In September this year, the Russian Military Prosecutor’s Office received a letter from a German-based Saxon Memorial public organization with a request to rehabilitate a man named Hans Piekenbrock.

“When we raised the archive materials, we learnt a lot of interesting things,” Fridinsky went on to say. It turned out that General Hans Piekenbrock was one of the leading intelligence agents in Hitler’s Germany and the head of the Abwerh-1 department, which was in charge of spying on foreign armies; collected information about military industries, raw material resources, means of communication and the relations of foreign countries with each other.

General Hans Piekenbrock was not just a rank-and-file Abwerh department head but a deputy to Abwerh’s chief, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.

According to Fridinsky, General Piekenbrock spread misinformation about Germany’s forthcoming attack on the USSR and was directly linked to Hitler’s Barbarossa plan of attacking the Soviet Union. He sent a huge number of intelligence agents to the USSR and involved German citizens who arrived in the Soviet Union in intelligence operations. General Piekenbrock set up the Walli 1 intelligence headquarters to coordinate subversive operations against the Soviet Union in May 1941.

Hans Piekenbrock was captured after the war. He was a witness at the Nuremburg trial over Nazi criminals. In 1952, General Piekenbrock was convicted in the USSR for crimes against peace and humanity and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The Soviet government handed him over to the authorities in West Germany three years later. The West German government paid Piekenbrock a huge compensation. He also received a general’s pension.

General Hans Piekenbrock died at the age of 66.

The question of rehabilitation of Nazi criminals guilty of crimes against peace and against humanity is regulated by the Germany-based Control Council Law No.10 on “Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes, Crimes against Peace and Against Humanity” adopted on December 20, 1945.

“Under the provisions of the aforesaid document, all rehabilitation requests from German citizens should be considered by the Russian Military Prosecutor’s Office which draws its conclusions on each particular case and sends them to court. Later, the court decides whether a person deserves acquittal and rehabilitation. This practice has been applied for almost 70 years,” Russia’s Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

He also said that Russia’s Military Prosecutor’s Office has been receiving a growing number of requests from abroad to rehabilitate Nazi criminals.

“We are considering plenty of applications from foreign nationals and their relatives,” Fridinsky said. “The Military Prosecutor’s Office received 117 rehabilitation requests from Germany in the first 9 months of 2014. Their number keeps growing from year to year,” Fridinsky went on to say.

“A district military court considered 21 criminal cases involving German nationals last year compared to over 24 cases in the first nine months of 2014. The applicants include civilians and former servicemen of the German armed forces /the Wehrmacht from 1935 to 1946/; members of SS protection squads and troops convicted of committing war crimes,” Russia’s chief military prosecutor said.

The court ruled that none of those persons deserved rehabilitation,” Fridinsky went on to say adding that he regarded many applications as “an attempt to smooth over the scars of the past.”

Some of those applications, according to Fridinsky, could be classified as open attempts to whiten fascism. “Unfortunately, this trend can be seen in the West today. We believe that the authors of these applications are either unaware of the true circumstances under the Nazi crimes were committed or try to portray the war criminals as rank-and-file perpetrators of someone else’s will,” Fridinsky said in his interview.

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