Valkyrie release prompts new calls to pardon Nazi 'traitors'

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Germany is contemplating a bill that will pardon Nazi-era "traitors" executed by military courts during the Second World War.

Among the most high-profile cases is that of Private First Class Johann Lukaschitz from Vienna, who was sentenced to death at the age of 24 for "failing to report a planned act of treason" – a secret cell of malcontents in his unit.

The verdicts against men like Lukaschitz were never repealed. Around 30,000 deserters, conscientious objectors and traitors were sentenced to death by the Nazi judiciary, of whom an estimated 20,000 were actually executed.

A bill to exonerate them is currently in parliament but stalled. The ruling conservative Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have not voted on it, partly because the initiative comes from the far-left Left Party, which is unpopular with the grand coalition.Many soldiers were condemned to death for writing in diaries that persecuting Jews was wrong, or criticising Hitler. These, argue their defenders, deserve the hero status now accorded to Stauffenberg.

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