Government agency helps Germans break the taboo on Nazi family ties

JNS, January 26, 2017

While the annual marking of International Holocaust Remembrance Day Jan. 27 gives voice to the stories of victims of the Nazis’ atrocities, what can Germans know about perpetrators from their own family?

That was precisely Maya Levy’s question when she contacted the German government agency Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt), known in English as the Wehrmacht Information Office for War Losses and POWs, to begin an investigative search into the Nazi past of her paternal grandfather.

All Levy knew from her family’s oral history was that her grandfather was drafted into the Third Reich army at age 17. She filled out a form detailing his biographical information, and weeks later received a letter from the WASt informing her of her grandfather’s army ID and tank unit, named after Gestapo founder Hermann Goering. The letter surmised that other documents were destroyed, leaving Levy with more questions.

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