Background of the Event
On 15 May 1997 the German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag, has passed a resolution for the rehabilitation of those who were persecuted by the NS-military justice for conscientious objection, desertion and “Wehrkraftzersetzung”. In this resolution it was stated: “The Second World War was a war of aggression and annihilation, a crime committed by NS-Germany.” The NS-military justice practised a bloody persecution of those who didn’t (any longer) want to participate in this crime. More than 30,000 death sentences were pronounced against deserters from the Wehrmacht; more than 25,000 were executed. But nevertheless their rehabilitation is still not unequivocal.
In the resolution of May 1997 the Bundestag has stated that the sentences of the NS military courts were unjust measured by values of a state under the rule of law. The following Abrogation Act of NS-Sentences (25 August 1998) however did not generally rehabilitate the deserters of the Wehrmacht. In contrast to all other victim groups their rehabilitation still depends on a case to case examination. As a consequence the rehabilitation of deserters remains unclear and each single survivor must admit an application to the concerned public prosecutor’s office if he wants to become rehabilitated. More than 50 years after the end of the War the few deserters still living refuse this procedure. For them this appears to be unreasonable after a life of discrimination, humilation and insult. Therefore a general and legal rehabilitation of the victims of the NS-military justice is still missing. The rehabilitation of German soldiers a few years after the end of the Second World War happened much earlier and clearly less difficult.
The organisers of this event state that desertion was a political necessary and honourable act in view of the criminal character of the German war of aggression and annihilation. They demand the legal rehabilitation of the dead and the few deserters of the Wehrmacht that are still alive, and they support the call for appropriate compensation, e.g. through the payment of a pension for their suffering in the prisons and concentration camps.