Exhibit on the crimes of ordinary Nazis closes amid clamor

berlin (ap) | An exhibit implicating regular German troops in Holocaust crimes was shown for the last time in Hamburg on Sunday, March 28, contentious even after nine years with hundreds of right-extremists, and even more anti-Nazi protesters, taking to the streets to demonstrate.

“War of Extermination: Crimes of the Wehrmacht from 1941 to 1944,’ put together by German historians and sponsored by philanthropist Jan Phillipp Reemtsma, attracted some 1.3 million visitors since it opened in 1995 and toured Germany and Austria.

Police officers began work early in preparation for the final showing, searching the area where the protests were planned and uncovering two caches of stones believed to have been hidden to be used as weapons.

Some 4,385 officers from Hamburg, the Federal Border Police and 11 other German states kept tight control as some 500 neo-Nazis marched against the exhibition.

About 1,800 counterdemonstrators chanted “Nazis out,’ as the right-extremists shouted “honor and pride for the Wehrmacht!’ Apples and eggs were thrown, but the tensions did not escalate further and police reported no arrests.

The Wehrmacht exhibit made use of photographs, official records and letters from soldiers to show that killings of Jews and other civilians were carried out not only by SS units but by ordinary German soldiers.

One section examined the various ways in which lower-ranking officers and ordinary soldiers interpreted orders that led to war crimes, while other areas focused on the gruesome fate of Soviet Jews and prisoners of war, and reprisals against civilians for partisan raids.

Conservative politicians blasted the show as degrading to the ordinary German soldier, while right-wing radicals regularly protested exhibitions.