This week, the tiny Bavarian town of Wunseidel unearthed the remains of Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy, to discourage neo-Nazis from making pilgrimages to his grave. The bones were exhumed under cover of darkness, and cremated. The ashes were secretly scattered at sea. Neo-Nazis see Hess, who died in prison in 1987 at age 93, as a martyr, and hundreds, sometimes thousands, of them converged on Wunseidel each year around the anniversary of his death. Was this the right way to tackle the problem?
Yes. It eliminates a neo-Nazi shrine: The "grave had become a magnet for neo-Nazis," says Moe Lane at his blog, "and nobody wants those guys around." This is precisely why we threw Osama bin Laden's corpse into the Indian Ocean. Now, instead of all gathering at one spot, Hess' goose-stepping fans and bin Laden's "jihadi-wannabees" will flock to several different places and fight over whose shrine is best — "hopefully, with live ammo."
"Rudolf Hess and Osama bin Laden"
No. Desecrating a grave is always wrong: I don't have "an iota of respect for Hess," says Jeanne Sager at The Stir, "but he was a human being." It's just not right to dishonor his grave. It's easy to understand why the town leaders in Wunseidel would want to send Hess' extremist fans somewhere else, but they "have bypassed passive-aggressive tourist dissuasion methods and gone straight on into crazy town."
"Town that desecrated Nazi's grave should be ashamed"
Well, this was a last resort: The town tried everything to get the neo-Nazis to stop invading every August, says Karl Willi-Beck, Wunseidel's mayor, as quoted by The New York Times. Churches, political parties, and trade unions rallied in 2005 to have the extremists banned from gathering in the cemetery. But they kept showing up to lay wreaths, so the town got permission from the church to destroy the grave. "It was the right thing to do."
"Hitler aide's grave is removed to stop neo-Nazi pilgrimages"