Grimmer-Solem’s research sparks questions in German Parliament about honoring a suspected war criminal in the German Armed Forces
A formal set of questions was submitted in the German Bundestag by a caucus of the party Die Linke on January 30, 2014 asking Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government why the German Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr)continue to honor General Hans von Sponeck by naming an Air Force base in Germersheim after him. City streets and monuments also commemorate the General, who is remembered for withdrawing his troops against Hitler’s orders and thereby saving the lives many thousands of his soldiers during a Soviet counterattack in Crimea in December 1941. The parliamentary questions make reference to the recent published research of Erik Grimmer-Solem, Associate Professor of History, which documents numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Wehrmacht and SS in the southern Ukraine in 1941 on von Sponeck’s orders. Questions were also raised about investigations of the German newsmagazine DER SPIEGEL, published in December 2013, which revealed that von Sponeck’s involvement in war crimes was known to the German Air Force as early as 2004 following an internal inquiry by an Air Force major. The major’s report left no doubt about von Sponeck’s participation in war crimes, yet it was never made public and its recommendations to rename the base were not followed.