Germany clears WW2 'traitors'

Sept. 8, 2009 at 7:57 PM

BERLIN, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The German Bundestag voted Tuesday to clear the names of "war traitors" convicted and sentenced by Nazi military courts during World War II.

The vote completes a process that began in 2002 with the rehabilitation of convicted deserters, the BBC reports. Ludwig Baumann, 87, who founded the Association of Victims of Nazi Military Justice in 1990, said he regrets so many who tried to oppose the Nazis, are no longer alive.

"For all of us, not just for me, the vote in the Bundestag is the culmination of a long struggle," he said. "We never believed we could achieve this because we had so many opponents. But we got there in the end and I'm very pleased."

Baumann deserted from the Wehrmacht in 1942 in occupied France. He was caught, sentenced to death and then sent first to a concentration camp, then to a Wehrmacht prison and finally to the Eastern Front.

After the war, Baumann said, many people accused him of cowardice.

"Our opponents in the Bundestag argued that we couldn't be rehabilitated because that would be unjust for all soldiers, and they claimed it would be bad for soldiers' morale in the army," he said.

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