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9 Feb, 2024 15:00

German foreign minister’s grandfather was ‘ardent Nazi’ – Bild

Annalena Baerbock’s office said she had no idea that her ancestor was a committed follower of Hitler
German foreign minister’s grandfather was ‘ardent Nazi’ – Bild

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s grandfather was “an unconditional National Socialist” who had read ‘Mein Kampf’ and fully stood with the Nazi regime, according to documents seen by the tabloid Bild.

Baerbock has spoken publicly about her grandfather’s wartime experiences, telling an audience in 2022 that Waldemar Baerbock returned to Germany from the east in early 1945 “as a defeated soldier.”

What Baerbock did not mention was that her grandfather was an officer in the Wehrmacht, and had been awarded one of the Third Reich’s highest military honors, the War Merit Cross with Swords in 1944, Bild reported on Thursday. The cross was bestowed on soldiers for “special services when deployed under enemy weapons or for special services in military warfare.”

According to the newspaper, Waldemar Baerbock’s military records describe him as “an unconditional National Socialist,” who had read Adolf Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ and whose character was “completely rooted in National Socialism.”

Asked for comment, Baerbock’s office said that “the foreign minister was not aware of the documents.”

Germany’s Federal Archives note that military records from the time “almost always” describe officers with phrases like “stands firmly on the basis of the National Socialist worldview,” and praise their “impeccable National Socialist attitude.”

According to Bild, Waldemar Baerbock told his family in the late 1990s that he had served in the Wehrmacht. Before he died in 2016, he wrote down his war memoirs in a notebook, which he passed to his family. Baerbock mentioned her grandfather in her 2021 autobiography, but did not state whether his notebook contained any references to his supposed Nazi ideology.

During a 2022 speech marking the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi officials formulated and planned the so-called 'final solution' for Europe's jews, Baerbock declared that even low-level government functionaries of the Third Reich were responsible for “the crimes and genocide of the Nazi regime.” 

Annalena Baerbock was a co-leader of Alliance90/The Greens in Germany before becoming foreign minister in late 2021. An ardent interventionist, Baerbock has steered the party away from its long-standing policy of pacifism, and reportedly pushed Chancellor Olaf Scholz to approve shipments of heavy weapons to Ukraine. While her party’s 2021 manifesto explicitly stated that it wanted to “end European arms exports to war and crisis zones,” Germany has become the second-largest supplier of arms to Kiev after the US.