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German report
by Euro Reporter
2014-12-13 14:31:27
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Nazi Oradour massacre: German court throws out case

A court in the German city of Cologne has said there is not enough evidence to try an 89-year-old man accused over an infamous Nazi massacre of civilians in France. SS troops murdered 642 people in the central village of Oradour-sur-Glane on 10 June 1944. Werner C did not deny being in the village but said he had no direct involvement in the murders. Prosecutors accused him of shooting 25 people and helping to murder many more. Some 450 women and children were herded into a church in the village, then grenades were thrown into the building and it was set alight. The men were shot before being locked in a barn, which was also set on fire. The ruins of the village have been left as they were in 1944 as a permanent memorial to those who died. The suspect, whose full name was not given in court under German privacy laws, was charged by prosecutors in Dortmund in January, after files on six soldiers who were still alive were uncovered in the archives of the Stasi secret police in the former East Germany.

Twenty soldiers were convicted for their part in the murders in the 1950s, but all were subsequently freed. Werner C had been a member of an SS mechanised infantry regiment known as The Fuehrer, according to prosecutors, and had been listed as a machine gunner. However, the court said a trial would only be able to establish that he was in the area during the massacre and rejected the list as incomplete. "This mere presence is not enough to prove accessory to murder without the proof of other circumstances," the court said. The Dortmund prosecutors have a week in which to appeal against the decision.

A clear motive for the massacre of French civilians was never fully established, although there were suggestions that it was a reprisal for the kidnap of a German officer. In an interview earlier this year, the suspect claimed he had saved two women, urging them to head for a nearby forest. Oradour-sur-Glane has served as a symbol of reconciliation in recent years between Germany and France. Last year, German President Joachim Gauck stood hand-in-hand in the village with President Francois Hollande and an 88-year-old survivor, Robert Hebras.


Thousands join anti-Islam protest against European spread of Isis and al-Qaeda

Nearly 10,000 people took part in the latest anti-Islam demonstration organised by the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), in Dresden on Monday night (8 December). Thousands of Germans have been protesting for months against what they call an "Islamisation" of the country. Pegida wishes to distance itself from neo-Nazi groups in the country, and on its Facebook page it states that it aims to ensure that all "German children can grow up in a cosmopolitan and friendly nation" and it "refuses to allow the spread of activities by groups such as [Islamic State] and al-Quaeda in Europe." 

Several protests have been occurring throughout the country, starting with a rally held in Cologne in October. Counter-protests opposing the call to stop Islamisation in the country have also been held. The Deutsche Welle reported that in early December around 80 anti-Islam protesters in Kassel were stopped by some 500 demonstrators who opposed the spread of their message. 

The protests have been occurring as the Bavaria's ruling party, Christian Social Union (CSU), put forward a proposal that immigrants should speak German not only in public but also at home. The draft law has sparked outrage with dozens taking to social media to voice their dissent.


Germany emerges as net neutrality antagonist

Germany, which is spearheading Europe’s fight against US tech giants on everything from data privacy to Google search engine monopoly, is hoping to scupper net neutrality too. It is opening another front in the growing battle between Europe and the US on control over the internet, and toward what some warn is an increasing balkanization of the World Wide Web. In November, President Barack Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission to declare broadband internet service a public utility, saying that it is essential to the economy and that the “strongest possible rules” are needed to ensure that the internet doesn’t become divided into fast and slow lanes. While net neutrality — keeping all traffic on the internet at equal speed and quality — has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support in Germany, the signs coming from Berlin the last few months signal a change.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said at a Vodafone event last week that the government should allow telecoms to offer “special services” at a higher speed, reiterating a point made by German economics minister Sigmar Gabriel in October, when he said he couldn’t imagine a German law on net neutrality passing. Deutsche Telekom, the country’s former state-owned telco, has long seen net neutrality as part of its strategy to beat back the dominance of US tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, who offer so-called over the top services on telcos’ internet cables. “Net neutrality the way it has been sold to the public is, in truth, the privileging of American companies,” Telekom spokesman Philipp Blank said. In an internal position paper Deutsche Telekom said was drafted last year for talks with politicians, the German telecom giant argues for fighting the power of over-the-top or OTT companies in order to help Europe “regain a leading position.”

Yet, behind the shift is also a governmental push to advance high-grade connectivity for German “smart factories” which seek to link assembly lines over the internet. Germany is betting that cloud-based manufacturing processes would help local firms like Siemens, Bosch and others maintain their technological edge by allowing products to be fully customizable from the shop floor. In turn, Deutsche Telekom argues this would require more investment in the physical infrastructure for connectivity, and that it should be able to charge more to both end-users and content providers than they are currently allowed to. “If we really want to guarantee the quality of data transmission needed for e-health applications, driving cars, and industrial processes, then we need another payment model,” said Mr. Blank of Deutsche Telekom.

But not everyone agrees. “The Telekom’s position is incredibly disingenuous,” said Jürgen Grützner, chief executive of the German Association of Telecommunications and Value-Added Service Providers, a trade association which represents multimedia companies and smaller telecommunications companies. “Higher prices won’t trigger investment in new infrastructure,” said Mr. Grützner. According to a study by Rewheel, a research consultancy staffed by open internet advocates, Germany already has some of the highest prices for smartphones in the EU because of the way Deutsche Telekom charges for data. Thomas Jarzombek, a member of the German parliament in Angela Merkel’s coalition government argues that the government’s new digital agenda won’t impact consumers. “We want consumers to have freedom of choice and competition, so internet service providers shouldn’t be given special privileges.”


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