The campaign to remove Major Walter Nowotny's remains

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Pronghorn
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The campaign to remove Major Walter Nowotny's remains

Post by Pronghorn » 19 Jul 2003 00:31

Vienna council shifts Luftwaffe hero from plot of honour to pauper's grave
By Clare Chapman in Vienna
(Filed: 13/07/2003)

The ashes of a daredevil Luftwaffe pilot who shot down more than 250 Allied planes in the Second World War are to be exhumed from a grave of honour in Vienna after the council stripped him of his status as a war hero.

The campaign to remove Major Walter Nowotny's remains from the city's Central Cemetery and move them to a pauper's plot has been led by the grandson of a British RAF pilot who was shot down over Belgium in 1940 and died of his injuries.

David Ellensohn, a Vienna city councillor whose maternal grandfather was RAF acting pilot officer James Gillespie, successfully argued that Major Nowotny - the first fighter pilot in history to bring down 250 enemy aircraft - had been serving the Third Reich and did not deserve his heroic status.

"He was not fighting for this country, for Austria, he was fighting for the Third Reich," said Mr Ellensohn, a Green Party councillor. "If they had won the war, there would be no Austria as such. Therefore, we should not be forced to give special credit to this man."

Major Nowotny, who had shot down 258 enemy aircraft by the time of his death, aged 24, had been awarded the Third Reich's highest military honour, the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, by Hitler himself.

When the major died in 1944 when his fighter crashed in flames, his ashes were buried with his medals in his home town, Vienna, alongside Austrian resistance fighters and Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss and Brahms.

Mr Ellensohn asked: "What did he do that earned him a place alongside those who really earned their places in the cemetery, such as resistance fighters Rosa Jochmann and Paul Speiser?

"He was placed in that section of the graveyard by the Nazis, not by the city of Vienna, and although it has taken 59 years for the city to recognise that he does not deserve to be there, we are pleased that action is finally being taken."

The council's decision has been denounced as "cultural barbarianism" by Johann Herzog, a councillor for the opposition Freedom Party (FP), which has launched an appeal.

Opposition councillors argue that relocating the major's ashes would contravene the war graves welfare law, from 1948, that says war graves - regardless of the nationality of their occupant - must remain undisturbed.

Mr Herzog said: "The necessity to dishonour Nowotny's grave, and therefore his person, almost 60 years after his death, is evidence of a distorted understanding of history and moreover a lack of deference for a fallen soldier. And that's all he was - a soldier.

"He was not a member of the National Socialist Party and he certainly was not a war criminal. If he were, I could understand the removal of his status. In fact, he was respected not just by his own side but by RAF pilots as well."

Sascha Gasthuber, of the far-Right Germania group, said protesters carrying flaming torches to show their contempt for the vote would march against the council's decision. "Nowotny gave his life to make sure the future was worth living in for us and our children. We cannot sit back and let them dishonour his memory like this."

Mr Ellensohn, however, insisted that the plan to move the grave away from the cemetery's section for heroes was perfectly justified. "As far as I am aware, there is no rule in Catholicism that says a grave cannot be moved, not like in Judaism," he said.

Major Nowotny, who joined up when he was 19 following the invasion of Poland, was renowned even among Allied pilots and during the summer of 1943 became a virtual one-man air force in the skies over the Eastern Front. In June 1943 he shot down 41 aircraft, 10 in one day. He crashed on November 8 1944 and was buried with his medals a few days later.

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Wulpe
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Post by Wulpe » 19 Jul 2003 11:05

UPDATE

In the meantime, the city council has decided that Nowotny´s grave will no further be a honour grave, which means the city will stop caring (= paying) for the maintenance. However, the grave will not be relocated, but remain within section 14 C (honour graves) of the central cemetery because war graves are specially protected by law.

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Ebusitanus
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Post by Ebusitanus » 19 Jul 2003 11:56

True brave man this Ellensohn wanting to desecrate a fallen soldier´s grave for the sake of poltical play. :x

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 19 Jul 2003 11:57

Desecrate? Correct me if I'm wrong but the only change as I understand it is that the city will no longer pay for the maintenance of the grave. How can that be desecration?

/Marcus

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Wulpe
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Post by Wulpe » 19 Jul 2003 12:28

Desecrate? Correct me if I'm wrong but the only change as I understand it is that the city will no longer pay for the maintenance of the grave. How can that be desecration?
This is what happened. I think Debusitanus referred to the fact that the Green Party demanded more, but didn´t get the votes - not only to remove the status of a honour grave, but also to have Nowotny exhumed and relocated.

Since the relocation is prohibited by law, David Ellensohn (on the pic) has made a new proposal. He now demands that the city council attaches this plate to the grave:

Image

Image

which reads:

"Ehemaliges Ehrengrab von Walter Nowotny

Der Major der deutschen Luftwaffe Walter Nowotny, Führer der illegalen Hitlerjugend und NSDAP-Mitglied seit 1.5.1938, wurde nach seinem als "Heldentod" dargestellten tödlichen Absturz 1944 von der NS-Propaganda zur Galionsfigur hochstilisiert und in einem Ehrengrab der Stadt Wien beerdigt.
Da diese Grabstätte immer wieder Ort rechtsextremer Aktivitäten war und kein sachlicher Grund für die Aufrechterhaltung der Ehrung eines nationalsozialistischen Endsieg-Kämpfers vorliegt, hat der Gemeinderat der Stadt Wien am 23. Mai 2003 auf Initiative eines Wehrmachtsdeserteurs die Ehrengrabwidmung aufgehoben."

my translation:

"Former honour grave of Walter Nowotny

The german Luftwaffe Major Walter Nowotny, commander of the illegal Hitler Youth and NSDAP member since 1.5.1938, whose deadly crash in 1944 has been portrayed as a "heroes death", was made a figurehead by the NS-propaganda and buried in a honour grave of the city of Vienna.
Because this grave has repeatedly been scene of right-wing extremist activities and because there´s no objective reason to uphold the tribute to a national-socialistic Endsieg (ultimaty victory ?) fighter, the city council of Vienna has lifted the status of a honour grave on request of a Wehrmacht deserter on 23.5.2003."

Source: Green Party

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tlcm51fr
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Post by tlcm51fr » 19 Jul 2003 13:14


haa
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Chasing a ghost

Post by haa » 19 Jul 2003 13:25

Surely David Ellensohn is driven by a passion for a lost family member, but once you get into the "grave plates" business then where do you stop? I am sure a good many Indians and Africans would love to go around England putting plates on the honor graves of British soldiers. Maybe even Churchill's grave would be endangered because of some of his views on India.

The sad part of this whole affair is that this man's grave has become a battlefield between extreme right and left wing groups. One group will no doubt deface or steal the plate and another group will replace it in an endless cycle until the state steps does something drastic like put a huge fence around the grave or assigns a 24 hour guard.

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Post by Eindecker » 19 Jul 2003 22:59

As the GRANDSON of a B-24 pilot who fought the Japanese in China and the GRANDSON of a B-17 waist gunner in the 8th AF, and the GRANDNEPHEW of an 82 Airbourne 'Battle of the Bulge' veteran who lost both legs in the same event.... What a dispicable, worthless waste of resources and time that Mr David Ellensohn has spent...

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Erich
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Post by Erich » 20 Jul 2003 02:54

the plate means nothing in my opinion. either take care of the grave like the rest of the others in this Friedhof or remove Walters reamins to another location. Maybe the fliegergehmeinschaft of Germany should get involved in this ........ ?
I just wait until I get a nasty letter asking my familie to remove my cousins remains including his inscribed cross from the cold concrete modern day grave stones at Holtensen......as he surely must have been a "nazi-flyer" ! what rubbish......

~E

Geheime Feldpolizei
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Nowotny Grave.....Future Events?

Post by Geheime Feldpolizei » 21 Jul 2003 11:45

Since the State will no longer pay for the upkeep of the grave, will the remains be disinterred and placed in a pauper's grave as the result of this move? I remember that the grave of the arch-traitor, Colonel Alfred Redl, was so treated when the fund ran out. His grave, too, was in the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna. What efforts, if any, have been undertaken to ensure that the grave is properly cared for in future?

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Wulpe
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Re: Nowotny Grave.....Future Events?

Post by Wulpe » 22 Jul 2003 12:16

Geheime Feldpolizei wrote:Since the State will no longer pay for the upkeep of the grave, will the remains be disinterred and placed in a pauper's grave as the result of this move?
As I wrote, war graves are specially protected by law and can´t be moved. But the city will no longer cut the grass, care about the flowers, make repairs, and so on.
I remember that the grave of the arch-traitor, Colonel Alfred Redl, was so treated when the fund ran out.
Redl committed suicide, therefore it was no war grave and was relocated like every other grave when the payments ceased.
What efforts, if any, have been undertaken to ensure that the grave is properly cared for in future?
From what I was reading the right wing FPO announced to raise a fund. But nothing substantial is known yet, afaik.

Geheime Feldpolizei
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Contributions

Post by Geheime Feldpolizei » 22 Jul 2003 12:33

If you get any information about the fund, please let members of the board know. I am sure that some, like me, would be willing to contribute to the fund.

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Wulpe
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Re: Contributions

Post by Wulpe » 22 Jul 2003 15:54

Geheime Feldpolizei wrote:If you get any information about the fund, please let members of the board know. I am sure that some, like me, would be willing to contribute to the fund.
Image

You might get more information from the FPO city council member Mr. Johann Herzog who opposed the removal of "honour grave" status.

johann.herzog@fpoe.at

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David Brown
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The campaign to remove Major Walter Nowotny's remains

Post by David Brown » 22 Jul 2003 23:34

Opposition councillors argue that relocating the major's ashes would contravene the war graves welfare law, from 1948, that says war graves - regardless of the nationality of their occupant - must remain undisturbed.

Mr Herzog said: "The necessity to dishonour Nowotny's grave, and therefore his person, almost 60 years after his death, is evidence of a distorted understanding of history and moreover a lack of deference for a fallen soldier. And that's all he was - a soldier.

"He was not a member of the National Socialist Party and he certainly was not a war criminal. If he were, I could understand the removal of his status. In fact, he was respected not just by his own side but by RAF pilots as well."

This smacks of just another brand of "Political Correctness" to me.

Marcus - with regard to desecration, if the authorities opted to dig up the remains of a war grave and remove them for the reasons stated in the opening post, I would be inclined to see it as desecration.

Dave

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 23 Jul 2003 16:15

Yes Dave, but I was referring to the suggestion that city will no longer pay for the maintenance of the grave.

/Marcus

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