Keeping Munich's ugly past alive

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Munich is an easy city to like: clean, bright and livable. It has world-class art museums, stylish shops, wide boulevards, parks and squares. Conviviality overflows in its fabled beer gardens, and its people have an open, animated air.

Joachim von Halasz, a London-based financial analyst who often travels to Munich, knows well the attractions of this southern German city, including its towered and turreted Gothic revival Neues Rathaus, which the U.S. 7th Army used as headquarters near the end of World War II. But he is troubled by an inscription there that says, "To the soldiers who liberated Munich from the national socialist tyranny on April 30, 1945."

To von Halasz, it's fair to say that France and Belgium (not to mention concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Dachau) were liberated by the Allies. Armies liberate places that are being held captive, against their will.

But that was not precisely the case with Munich, the birthplace and stronghold of the Nazi party. For von Halasz, the word choice seems misleading, a verbal whitewashing of the city's firm historic connection to Adolf Hitler. And it reflects what he thinks is a bigger problem of how the city faces its past.

Von Halasz set out to correct that by writing "Hunting Nazis in Munich," a guidebook on lost sites connected with Hitler and his National Socialist party. (He has launched a companion Web site,

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