Daily Archives: May 12, 2009

Pope Benedict ‘never in the Hitler Youth’, says Vatican

London Times | May 12, 2009

The Pope in his Hitler Youth uniform

The future Pope in his Hitler Youth uniform

Amid rising criticism of the Pope’s performance at Israel’s Holocaust memorial, the Vatican made a surprise denial today that the German pontiff had ever been a member of the Hitler Youth.

“The Pope has said he never, never was a member of the Hitler Youth, which was a movement of fanatical volunteers,” Franco Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman said.

Attention on the Catholic leader’s past has threatened to eclipse the message of peace and reconciliation he has been pushing during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Mr Lombardi said that the then Joseph Ratzinger, as a 16-year-old seminarian, had served in an auxiliary air defence squadron “that had nothing to do with Nazism or Nazi ideology.”

However, the Pope has said himself in past interviews that prior to serving as a Wehrmacht anti-aircraft gunner he had been conscripted, along with so many other German boys of his age, into the Hitler Youth, in which he had served reluctantly.

Venting frustration with the relentless focus on the Pope’s war years – a highly sensitive subject in a visit to the Jewish state – Mr Lombardi insisted the Pope “never was in this movement of young people ideologically linked to Nazism.” Mr Lombardi said that he felt compelled to respond “to the lies written by the media here and internationally” about the issue.

But in a series of interviews in the 1996 book Salt of the Earth, the Pope, then still a cardinal, said that he had been drafted into the Hitler Youth. “When the compulsory Hitler Youth was introduced in 1941, my brother was obliged to join. I was still too young, but later, as a seminarian, I was registered in the HY. As soon as I was out of the seminary, I never went back,” he said.

Many people thought that the Pope’s visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial commemorating the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis, lacked the necessary remorse from a German with his background.

“All that was asked of you was to say a short, authoritative and moving sentence. All you had to do was to express regret. That’s all we wanted to hear,” the daily Yediot Aharonot said.

“After all, it is claimed that you appointed to your Church a priest who denies the Holocaust and as a boy, you were a member of the Hitler Youth.”

The controversy has been deepened by the Pope’s reinstatement of a British-born bishop who had denied the extent of the Holocaust. The Vatican also asked that the pontiff be allowed to sidestep a Yad Vashem exhibit criticising his war-time predecessor, Pius XII, for ignoring the plight of Europe’s Jews. The Vatican denies that interpretation of history, and is working to declare Pius XII a saint.

Behind the pomp and courtesy of the papal visit, tempers have been clearly fraying on both sides. Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of parliament, weighed in with his own criticism of the Pope’s speech at Yad Vashem, in which he had explicitly condemned the slaughter.

“With all due respect to the Holy See, we cannot ignore the burden he bears, as a young German who joined the Hitler Youth and as a person who joined Hitler’s army, which was an instrument in the extermination,” he said.

“He came and told us as if he were a historian, someone looking in from the sidelines, about things that should not have happened. And what can you do? He was a part of them,” Mr Rivlin added.

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the chairman of Yad Vashem who himself survived the Holocaust, also complained about the Pope’s speech, criticising his use of the word “millions” rather than “six million” and saying they had been “killed” rather than “murdered.” “There’s a dramatic difference between killed and murdered, especially when a speech has gone through so many hands,” he said.

But Mr Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, defended the Pope’s emotional speech at the hall of remembrance, saying he had mentioned his personal history on previous occasions. “He can’t mention everything every time he speaks.”

Vicente Fox headlines “North American Prosperity” summit at Kennesaw State on May 12

Bush_Fox_Harper

President Bush meeting with President Vicente Fox and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the 2006 North American Security and Prosperity Partnership summit.

Vicente Fox headlines international summit at Kennesaw State on May 12

“Making North America Work – The Future of Canada, USA, Mexico Relations.”

Kennesaw State University | May 7, 2009

MEDIA ADVISORY

Former President of Mexico and other thought-leaders discuss the future of Canada‚ U.S. and Mexico relations

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (May 7‚ 2009) — Kennesaw State University will host the inaugural summit of the Commission for North American Prosperity – also referred to as North America 2050 – on Tuesday‚ May 12. The event will feature a keynote address from Vicente Fox‚ former president of the United States of Mexico and president of Centro Fox.

WHO: Kennesaw State University is serving as the host facility for the meeting‚ in partnership with the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce‚ Centro Fox‚ and the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Center. Summit Leaders include:

• Vicente Fox‚ former President of Mexico and president of Centro Fox

• Al Zapanta‚ president‚ U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce

• Peter Appleton‚ president‚ U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce‚ SE Chapter

WHAT: “Making North America Work – The Future of Canada‚ USA‚ Mexico Relations.”

This Open Forum will provide an opportunity for leaders and dignitaries in the fields of business‚ government and academia from the United States‚ Canada and Mexico to discuss the future of relations between the three countries.

WHEN: Tuesday‚ May 12‚ 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center‚ on the campus of Kennesaw State University‚ 1000 Chastain Rd.‚ Kennesaw‚ Ga.

The forum is free and open to the public. For public attendance purposes only‚ please RSVP to Jeanette Eberhart at jeberhar@kennesaw.edu or phone (770) 423-6033. All media should contact the KSU Office of University Relations to arrange attendance.

WHY: The Commission for North American Prosperity was created in response to growing recognition of the importance of the evolving social and economic relationships between Canada‚ Mexico and the U.S. Its mission is to provide guidance to North American leaders in government‚ business and civil society in the formulation of public and private policies affecting the future development and relationships of the U.S.‚ Canada and Mexico and its citizens. It is composed of 150 representatives from the private and public sectors.

Contact: Director of University Relations
Frances Weyand Harrison
770-423-6203
fharris4@kennesaw.edu

Contact: Tammy DeMel‚ 770-423-6383 or tdemel@kennesaw.edu

###

Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia‚ offering more than 65 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including new doctorates in education and business. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of more than 21‚000 from 142 countries.

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