Eight teenagers from the small northern German town of Uetersen, have carried out an in-depth investigation and have revealed that Adolf Hitler was never stripped of the honorary citizenship conferred on him by the town.
According to the German State International Broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, more than 4,000 towns and villages in both Germany and Austria, conferred honorary citizenship status on Hitler around 1934, the time he became one of the most powerful leaders in the world.
But after Hitler led the brutal war—which later became known as the Second World War—and upon his death in 1945, many towns stripped him of their honorary citizenship status.
The town of Uetersen had honored Hitler with its citizenship in 1934. And it is said Hitler had accepted the honor formally in writing. After the war, the town claimed to have withdrawn the honor on Hitler.
However, after spending over a year on their school research project, the eight students have been able to prove that their town never did what it claimed.
The town has officially accepted the findings of the students, and has officially withdrawn the honor conferred on Hitler in 1934. A formal ceremony was held in December 2015 to withdraw the citizenship. In January 2016, the students were awarded the Bertini prize for Civil Courage (German national civil courage Award), for their courage and perseverance to correct the history of the town.
According to the account of the story, the students had made an eight-minute film documentary for a sociology and media class. In the documentary, the students interviewed historians and local officials in the town about the citizenship status of Hitler in the town, and whether it had been withdrawn.
Through the answers given by these officials, the students sensed that they were trying to hide some important information. The students are said to have requested official documents testifying to the withdrawal of the honor, but officials failed to provide any.
The students later questioned the town’s mayor, Andrea Hansen, who in turn questioned the Bundestag’s Research Service. The Bundestag is the lower house of the German Federal Parliament.
The Bundestag is said to have replied to the mayor, making reference to a Wikipedia article, which claimed that the honorary citizenship expired upon Hitler’s death in 1945.
Not satisfied with the response, the students tracked down the author of the Wikipedia article, but he was unable to produce any evidence. Another city official, Adolf Bergmann, could only say that he had heard that the town’s council had stripped Hitler of the honor in 1946, and that this was recorded in some handwritten records, but he did not know where they were.
“It was very clear that it was the whole procedure was very uncomfortable for the town of Uetersen. There was suspicion that there was a problem with the honorary citizenship in Uetersen, that had been around for a while – that something could be rotten about it. We picked that up and unraveled it again,” one of the students, 16-year-old Arvid Maiwald, told Deutsche Welle in an interview.
The students concluded that the authorities were reluctant to dig up the issue, and were probably not willing to strip Hitler of the honor.
“It started getting interesting when we began corresponding with the Bundestag’s research service. That was when we started concluding that not everything had been made public and that things were being covered up a bit. And things started being unclear. The city of Uetersen definitely didn’t want to hear anything about this, until the end they kept denying that Hitler was still an honorary citizen. That was why they contacted the Bundestag, to buy some time and somehow get us off their backs,” another student, Florian Steig said.
Knowing that they had gathered concrete evidence to challenge the authorities on the issue, the students aired their documentary. As a result, the authorities accepted that Hitler was still a citizen of the town.
Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Britain and France subsequently declared war on Germany after Hitler refused to withdraw his troops from Poland. This conflict will later degenerate into the World’s most brutal armed conflict with two major blocs, the Axis forces and the Allied forces. The War brought death, destruction, misery and suffering in Europe, with Germany later becoming the worst affected country. This has made many people in Germany disassociate themselves from Hitler and his Nazi Party.