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Hiag

Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS (HIAG) (English: Mutual Help Association of Former Waffen-SS Members) was a German World War II veteran's organization founded in 1951 by former officers of the Waffen-SS. The main aims of the organisation were to provide assistance to veterans, and campaign for the rehabilitation of their legal status with respect to veterans' pensions. Unlike soldiers of the regular Wehrmacht, pensions had been denied to members of the Waffen-SS as a result of that organisation having been declared criminal by the victor's justice[1] (German: Siegerjustiz) in the aftermath of World War II.

History

The HIAG was established by former SS-Brigadeführer and Major general of the Waffen-SS Otto Kumm. A "tradition-bound association" by its own admission, the main aims of the organisation were to provide assistance to veterans, and campaign for the rehabilitation of their legal status with respect to veterans' pensions. Unlike soldiers of the regular Wehrmacht armed forces, pensions had been denied to members of the Waffen-SS as a result of that organisation having been declared criminal in the aftermath of the Second World War.

In 1959 former SS-Brigadeführer and Major general Kurt Meyer became HIAG spokesman. He publicly denied a relativisation of Nazi crimes, nevertheless several notable association members like Otto Kumm, Josef Dietrich, Richard Schulze-Kossens or Gustav Lombard were convicted war criminals. No former troop leader was ever debarred for the involvement in SS-Totenkopfverbände or Sicherheitsdienst (SD) atrocities.

At its height in the 1960s around 8% of the approximately 250,000 former Waffen-SS members living in West Germany were members of HIAG.[2] Temporarily monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a far-right organisation, it aimed to shape the public awareness of the Waffen-SS as a regular contending army or even as elite troops, along with militarism and historical revisionism.

During the 1980s, political antagonism towards the organisation grew and it was finally disbanded under its last chairman Hubert Meyer in 1992. However, its periodical Der Freiwillige (The Volunteer), initially issued by Erich Kern, is published up to today.

References

External links

  • University of Bielefeld research project (German)
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