As the world tumbles toward 2014, one might not expect to read about Dietramszell, a small town in southern Germany, which was recently locked in a heated debate over whether to strip Hitler of an honorary citizenship. The hamlet was among hundreds of towns to bestow such an honor upon the Nazi dictator in the years leading up to the Holocaust. About two weeks ago, an archivist found some old documents that revealed both Hitler and Paul von Hindenberg (who infamously appointed Hitler) had been given honorary citizenship in 1933. When the issue was brought to the town council, that’s when things got interesting:
The council deadlocked in an 8-8 vote last week on the resolution, with councilors voting against saying it was not up to them to rewrite history.
This is compelling for a few reasons. First of all, what kind of town council has an even number of votes? More importantly, there is something to the idea that a town wishes to honor its blemish by leaving it intact. I suppose if we wanted to look at this Jewishly, while the context is extraordinarily different, this seems to be in the same ballpark as the notion that we are supposed to leave a little bit of food uneaten at each meal or to leave a corner of a house without paint or stucco to remember the Second Temple.
I wouldn’t argue for it keeping the citizenship intact, but that it was the subject of debate is fascinating, especially given that both sides were acknowledging the historical shame. Ultimately, there was a resolution:
Town administrator Thomas Gerg said Wednesday the full council voted 21-0 on Tuesday to adopt the resolution and nullify the honor bestowed on both men after hearing impassioned testimony from a woman who lost family in the Holocaust.
And now Dietramszell can go back to being a delightful tourist town in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.