Wilhelm Kusterer, Marzabotto executioner, receives a medal
Is it possible that a whole nation has suppressed the memory of the Second World War and its horrors? Is it possible that Germany insist on not to know that the Nazi madness produced a carnage that claimed the lives of over 71 million people between 1939 and 1945, of which more than 48.5 million civilians? That even Germany with more than 7.4 million deaths (but “only” 2.1 million civilian victims) has paid a high price for the madness of the Nazi regime?
It would seem impossible, as it would seem impossible to remain silent about the Holocaust, which made between the 12.25 and the 17.37 million deaths according to estimates still being impossible to have an exact number of victims. If only because since 2005 January 27 was declared the Day of the Memory by the Plenary Assembly of the United Nations, in memory of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army troops. If only because among the 25,685 “Righteous Among the Nations” recognized by Yad Vashem there are 569 German names (the most famous of which is probably Oskar Schindler, whose story relates the Schindler’s List movie, which was a great success even in Germany).
How is it then that the city council of Engelsbrand, in Germany, has awarded for merits related to his political activities Wilhelm Kusterer, recognized as one of the executioner of the Marzabotto massacre, carried out by Nazi troops in Italy between September 29 and October 5, 1944 in the province of Bologna, which saw the killing of a total of 955 civilians (to which have to be added other 721 died from causes related to war)? The list of those sentenced for this massacre is well known and is composed of eleven names: Paul Albers; Josef Baumann; Hubert Bichler; Max Roithmeier; Adolf Schneider; Max Schneider; Kurt Spieler; Heinz Fritz Traeger; Georg Wache; Helmut Wulf; Wilhelm Kusterer.
All were sentenced, in absentia, to life imprisonment but none of these Nazi criminals has never suffered any damage, unlike their victims, so that Kusterer, who is now 94 years old, has been able to quietly carry out the activities of Engelsbrand councilor for decades. Now the mayor of the municipality, Bastian Rosenau, is visibly embarrassed but claims he don’t wanna take condemnations in advance and to await the results of a survey that “of course” was opened after the complaint due to grievances coming from Italy.
According to some, indeed, the Holocaust and crimes against humanity committed by Germany were taboo removed from the consciousness of the entire German people for over sixty years. The generation that took part in the Nazi madness do not removed his memory, but always had a marginal and detached awareness, and never spoke of the extermination of Jews and tens of millions of people. Their children, even though learned, have always declared that it was the work of the institutions but not the German people. Their grandchildren have also begun to admit some responsibility by the German people, always doing the distinction “but not my father or my grandfather.”
A real collective guilt removal, which could explain how a Nazi criminal after 72 years may be awarded a gold medal for the “value” he demonstrated, although years after the massacre of Marzabotto. Of course, you must learn to forgive and overcome the reasons of hatred, so as not to repeat the same horrors. But to forgive there must be repentance, to overcome hatred there must be mutual understanding. In this case it seems to have only wanted, consciously or unconsciously, to forget one of the most horrible pages of human history, perhaps to recur as teachers to whose rules the whole of Europe should feel obliged to adhere.