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20 Aug, 2007 03:09

Germany joins Estonian raid games

Amid worries of a Nazi revival in Europe and protests from Russia, former wartime allies of Germany united to re-enact a WW2 mission. Soldiers and reservists from nine countries, including Germany, have taken part in the Erna raid games in Estonia.

WW2 left millions dead and Germany defeated. As a punishment, it was divided, the Nazi party outlawed, and the survivors were determined not to allow the Nazi movement thrive again.

Today’s united Germany presents an example of a strong democracy.

But, 60 years on, a small European country has decided enough time has passed to try to recapture the former glory of the Nazi movement.

Estonia is one of the newer members of the European Union and NATO. For some reason this country of one-and-a-half million seems to hanker after its Nazi past.

For fourteen years soldiers and reservists from nine former Nazi Germany allies have been competing with each other in the forests of Estonia.

They follow the route which had been taken by ‘Erna’ Estonian soldiers who were on a saboteur mission for German intelligence in August 1941.

“The Estonians made a terrible mistake. Now they’re saying they want to give honour to the people who made that mistake, that’s the problem,” commented Efraim Zuroff from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

But this year for some reason somebody in the Germany’s Ministry of Defence decided Germany needed to join those raid games and sent a delegation.

The Estonians made a terrible mistake. Now they’re saying they want to give honour to the people who made that mistake, that’s the problem.

    Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre
“Nobody in Germany knows about it so I don’t think it is a very important thing, and I don’t think it is a kind of political signal of giving support to those games. Maybe the Ministry of Defence thinks about it as a sport game and not a kind of political manifestation,” explained Werner Bergmann from the Institute of Anti-Semitism.

One would expect that the Jews of Germany would be among the most concerned, but in a sinister deja vu they prefer not to dig too deep.

“I would not say that this is government-level anti-Semitism or support for Nazism in Germany, and therefore I would not see this as something extremely concerning, this was probably something that was overlooked by a low-ranking official,” said Yair Kanai from the Israeli Embassy.

Meanwhile, in the 1990s, when the Croatians declared their independence from the Yugoslavian Federation, Germany was the first to recognise and support them, and close its eyes to the fascist symbols they brought back to their cities.

There’s no doubt that Estonia will be hosting the Erna games again next year. The question is whether Germany will be sending a larger delegation or not.