Germany: Shadows from the past

An effort to forestall old memories—and update history

After 35 years he had become an almost forgotten person, living quietly in a small house in a suburb of Hamburg. Yet when he died at 89 of progressive heart disease, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, who commanded Hitler's navy during World War II, once more stirred up a controversy. Sensitive to both Nazi memories and controversial aspects of Dönitz's career, the West German government forbade formal or military trappings at the admiral's funeral this week.

The government made point of banning all wreaths and eulogies at the graveside. West German military personnel were...

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