Monthly Archives: May 2008

German Capital demands the head of Gregor Gysi: A founding member of Die Linkspartei.[Left Party]


The growth in working class support for Germany’s Die Linkspartei, [The Left Party] as expressed in recent regional election results and national opinion polls has clearly rattled Capital and its gofers in the Bundestag and media. This time in an attempt to halt the party’s rising popularity, reactionary forces have been rifling through the dustbin of history and dug up an old story about Gregor Gysi, one of the Left Party most charismatic leaders, who at one time was a member of East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party. [SED]

Unsurprisingly, as all of these parties have suffered at the ballot box due to the rise of the Left Party, politicians from the Christian Union parties, the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the FDP have called for for the head of Gregor Gysi by demanding that he should submit his resignation from national political leadership.

As anyone will know who has witnessed Gysi’s regular appearances on German TV, he is a very able fellow who had managed to turn the progressive wing of the Stalinist SED into the PDS, a left reformist party. Which eventually merged with Left social democrats led by the former Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, and the more radical WASG, to form the Left Party.

It is vital that Left Party members hold their nerve over these attacks; and understand they are politically motivated designed to drive down support for the LP. On no account must any party member join the chorus that is demanding Gregor Gysi’s head.

Mick Hall

Below is the DW-world-DE web sites take on this story.

German Left-Wing Leader Accused of Working for Stasi

Politicians from across the political spectrum have called on a top Left party parliamentarian to resign amid new allegations that he was an informer for the Stasi secret police in communist East Germany.

Parliamentarians from Germany’s biggest political parties attacked Left party parliamentary chief Gregor Gysi on Wednesday, May 28, saying he should bear the consequences of having provided information to East Germany’s Stasi secret police.
 
He should own up to his responsibility, politicians from the Christian Union parties the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the FDP said, with calls for an explanation, apology or even resignation.
 
“The departure is overdue,” said Christian Democrat Thomas Strobl. “Take the necessary consequences.”
 
Social Democrat Stephan Hisberg, one of the founders of the East German SPD, accused Gysi and his Left party of “lying and betraying.”

Recurring allegations

Gysi, a lawyer, has been battling allegations he colluded with the East German secret police for years. He responded to the attacks on the floor of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, with an impassioned speech. He rejected the allegations, saying that politicians from other parties had for years used every means to try to damage him personally in order to harm his party.
 
At issue this time is a 1979 meeting between Gysi and two East German dissidents, one of which was his client Robert Havemann. The head of the Stasi archive, Marianne Birthler, had provoked the new debate with comments she made on ARD television on Wednesday, in which she alleged that documents in the archive’s possession concerning the meeting stemmed from an informer who could only be Gysi.
 
Gysi took legal action against ZDF television after it broadcast similar comments Birthler made last week.
 
At a Left party convention last week, Gysi rejected the accusations, saying he had never consciously or willingly cooperated with the Stasi.

Threat from the Left?
Left party leader Oskar Lafontaine had called for Birthler’s dismissal.
 
“The boss of the Stasi [archive] is not in the position to exercise her duties objectively and impartially,” he said.
 
The Left party was established by trade unionists and former Social Democrats a year ago. It is Germany’s third-largest political party.

 
DW staff (ncy)

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Filed under E U, Germany, Organized Rage, Socialism/Politics/UK/EU/Democratic accountability/Left, witch-hunt

Raytheon 9: Independent newspaper censors Mark Steels column.


It seems that bastion of freedom the [London] Independent newspaper and its new editor are all for freedom; as long as those being oppressed are not on their own door step and they do not upset arms dealers to boot. This week Indie columnist Mark Steel submitted his regular copy for his weekly article only to find it spiked. The piece was about the trial of the Raytheon 9, a group of Irish anti war protesters and socialists who back in 2006 briefly occupied the offices within the Derry plant of the multi national arms manufacture Raytheon’s.

The company, according to the British government is a global leader in the development and deployment of advanced technology missile systems and air combat and strike systems. Among these is the Tomahawk cruise missile – around 500 of which in recent years have been fired by the US armed forces at targets inside Iraq.

The Raytheon 9 back in 2006 were especially angry that the Israeli armed forces were using the guidance systems for missiles which were being manufactured by Raytheon’s Derry plant in Lebanon, there was outrage in Derry when one such system guided a missile into a block of flats in Qana, killing 28 people, mostly children. Hence for veteran Derry socialist Eamonn McCann and his eight colleagues enough was enough; and they felt they needed to do their best to highlight the collusion that was taking place between this company, the British government and the IDF forces then invading southern Lebanon.

Hence the occupation, As I wrote above it was a brief affair, however it was taken up by much of the worlds media and caused some very red faces in London, Washington and Jerusalem, let alone Raytheon head office in Massachusetts, as the last thing such people want is publicity that their weaponry actually kills innocent people.

Whilst in the Raytheon plant the protesters managed to decommissioned a small number of the computers that are used to design military software. For this peaceful and positive act the nine now face serious charges under the Terrorism Act and could face lengthy prison sentences.

Mark Steel in the article the Independent’s new editor spiked, was Mark’s report of the beginning of the trial at Belfast High court of the Raytheon 9. The piece is published in full below and I ask all readers to pass it on and to hell with those who wish to play the censor on behalf of the powerful.

Mick Hall

The Evidence Mounts That Some Things Aren’t Fair, By Mark Steel.

There’s a trial currently taking place in Belfast, that seems to explain plainly how nothing makes any sense. It revolves around a factory owned by the arms company Raytheon, which was set up in Derry soon after the IRA ceasefire. John Hume, who’d just won the Nobel Peace Prize was among those who announced the opening of the plant, welcoming it as a result of the ‘peace dividend’

So at last, now the men of violence had agreed to give up their weapons, the area could attract a peaceful company with a turnover of seventeen billion dollars from making weapons. Clearly, all the while the IRA were decommissioning their arms, most of us misunderstood this process. Because the government reports must have gone “They possess 100 rifles, 10 RPG 7 rockets and a shed full of semtex. If they want to be taken seriously this isn’t NEARLY enough; they need Tornado bombers and a car park full of tanks – we can’t deal with these amateurs.”

For example, when Raytheon won a contract to develop a new missile system for the Israelis in 2006, a spokesman boasted they would “Provide all-weather hit-to-kill performance at a tactical missile price.” Next they might have adverts, that go “Hurry hurry hurry to the Raytheon springtime sale for lasers, tasers and civilian-erasers that will make flesh sizzle through snow, sleet or drizzle WITHOUT making a casualty of your wallet.”

Despite this, the government in Northern Ireland welcomed the new plant, claiming they’d been assured it wouldn’t be making weapons. To which a reasonable response would be ‘Right – they’re a weapons manufacturer – they supplied weapons to, amongst others, the Indonesian military junta – this might, if you were cynical, suggest they make weapons. Or what do you THINK they’re going to be making – FAIRTRADE FUCKING CUSTARD!’

Eventually it was admitted they were making guidance systems for missiles, and so for a while there was a pretence these were being employed for peaceful reasons. Perhaps the systems were being attached to wasps so that a central controlling network could guide them away from picnics.

But then it became clear they were being used by the Israelis in Lebanon, and there was outrage in Derry when in 2006 one such system guided a missile into a block of flats in Qana, killing 28 people, mostly children. A few days later the local anti-war group, including the journalist and civil rights activist Eamonn McCann, decided to occupy the Raytheon building as a protest. A group of nine got into the plant, and as a gesture they threw a computer or two out of the window. Eventually around 40 police arrived and, as Eamonn describes “They smashed through the doors wearing riot gear, many holding perspex shields, some pointing plastic-bullet guns. They inched forward while the officer in command shouted ‘surrender’. We continued playing cards.”

And as I know Eamonn I can imagine him later that night in the police cell muttering “Tonight did not go as planned at all – I was SURE no one would beat my pair of queens.”

Then came the official outrage – they’d wilfully broken the law, destroyed property etc. etc. So maybe whether an act of destruction is considered illegal or not comes down to the value of the objects destroyed. And computers are worth a fair packet, whereas a house in Qana can probably be picked up for next to nothing, especially with the current housing slump!

Perhaps the activists went about their protest in the wrong way. The more official approach might have been to leave Raytheon alone, but announce the local Co-op was making weapons. Then they could have produced a dossier to prove it, containing snippets from the internet about how the manager had been buying uranium from North Korea and smuggling it into the fridges in packets of fish fingers. Then they could have flattened the place, and when it turned out there never were any weapons they could have said it doesn’t really make any difference.

Last year the group travelled to Qana to meet the families of the victims of that missile, and they described the trip, not surprisingly, as the most moving experience of their lives. But while it’s all very well feeling compassion for dead civilians, someone has to consider the feelings of that poor computer, so this week their trial began. Because opposing the bombing of civilians with missiles made as a result of a peace process can land you in jail, whereas organising international support for bombing those civilians gets you a job as peace envoy to the place that was bombed. It’s obvious when you think about it.

I only hope that as the computer hit the ground, in its last moment it flickered ‘You have performed an illegal operation’.

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Filed under arms-manufactures, censorship, Derry, Ireland-Politics., Organized Rage, Raytheon-9

Film Review: There Will Be Blood; Hollywood Comes to Blows with Upton Sinclair.



The 2008 Oscar for best actor went to Daniel Day Lewis for his role in the movie ‘There Will Be Blood’, after watching the film, which I half enjoyed, I was bemused by the accolades poured upon it. Yes Lewis is a fine actor and he gives a professional performance and his presence on the screen captures the viewer, but in many ways this is due to a gaping hole in the script and the lack of a soul within the movie. The film is based on an Upton Sinclair novel, a book that has it all, yet none of the panoramic views Sinclair gives of the US class struggle at the beginning of the last century appear in the movie. Instead the main character played by Lewis is portrayed in the manner of an average patent medicine flim flam man of the type who at the time used to tour mid and western US towns selling their phony remedies. Basically he cons his way to riches whereas in the book he brutally ceases the nations and working classes wealth.

I could not understand why almost all critics applauded the film, and I became desperate for an alternative and progressive view of both the film and the period it is set in. I finally found one in David Bacons take on ‘There will be Blood, which first appeared on the excellent Z Magazine. Read it it and judge for your selves. (http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag%5D

MH

Hollywood Comes to Blows with Upton Sinclair By David Bacon

I was disappointed that Daniel Day- Lewis won an Oscar for There Will Be Blood, not because he’s not a great actor (he is), but because the movie was such a betrayal of the book on which it was based. Movies don’t have to follow books. Many don’t. But in this case, what we missed were the things that made Upton Sinclair’s Oil! a politically courageous book for its time. For our time, it unearths a crucial part of the hidden history of our own working class movement.

Oil! could have been made like Gangs of New York that explored the racial and ethnic conflicts at New York City’s birth, which so frightened its moneyed class that the rich shelled their own city to prevent the upending of their social order. Actually, a good movie made from Oil! would have been more like Reds, exploring not just social conflicts, but the way they gave birth to unions and left movements in much the same period. Reds was painted on a large canvas, moving from Oregon to the East Coast, and finally the Smolny Institute and the storming of the Winter Palace. Oil! covers the same period and many of the same political arguments, but they play out in a concentrated look at just one city, Los Angeles.

Upton Sinclair was not just an author who lived in Southern California and wrote about it, he was a political activist who tried to change it. He founded the Los Angeles chapter of the ACLU. He went to jail with longshore workers in Long Beach for speaking in defense of their strike. He ran for governor seven years after the novel was published. Incredibly, as a socialist he not only won the Democratic Party nomination in the depth of the Depression, but hundreds of thousands voted for his platform to “end poverty in California.” He gave the state’s corporate elite the biggest political scare they’ve had in any election before or since.

Oil! gives us a history of the city’s economic rise, even as LA was becoming the economic epicenter. But it does more than tell the story of the birth of the industry that has come to dominate this country’s politics, as Sinclair’s The Jungle did for meatpacking. Oil! is more politically sophisticated and recounts the growth of the social movements that challenged the harsh domination of the oil titans. That’s what is missing from There Will Be Blood. The movie history is false where Sinclair’s was true.

Oil! unfolds as the story of the political education of Bunny Ross and of his love for his father J. Arnold Ross, an oil wildcatter turned tycoon. Bunny’s nickname signals his character as a Southern California innocent motivated by the best of intentions. His father, Sinclair tells us, is kind and good. He loves Bunny and spends his life trying to make him happy and keep him from harm.

The two characters are the keys to Sinclair’s political analysis. Personal kindness, he says, cannot change poverty, exploitation, war, or corruption. J. Arnold Ross helps poor families as he takes their land for wells. He admires and respects his workers, but must stick with the other oil operators when they bring in strikebreakers to bust their union and evict the strikers from their homes. In a not-very-fictionalized account of the “Teapot Dome Scandal,” Ross tells Bunny that bribing politicians, even a president of the United States, is what is required in order to do business.

It doesn’t matter whether a capitalist is a good person or a bad one, Sinclair says. It’s the system that grinds one class into poverty and allows another to reap the benefit. J. Arnold Ross, a loving father and paternalistic employer, commits criminal acts because his social class not only makes it possible, but necessary. His pained justification to Bunny for hiring thugs is that if he doesn’t, the other oil operators will combine against him and drive him out of business.

There Will Be Blood turns Oil! on its head. Bunny basically disappears as a character, making only a few appearances to dramatize his father’s cruelty and corruption. J. Arnold, now a villain and renamed Daniel Plainview, expropriates Bunny as a child from his dead father and then banishes him when he goes deaf after a well explosion. Plainview’s personal degeneration culminates in beating an evangelist preacher to death in the bowling lane of his palatial home. His violence is treated as a defect in his character, a symbol of his evil nature. His crime is personal, not social.

As a result, the movie is devoid of the social conflict that is the book’s main narrative. There are no unions and no strikes. Class conflict is out. The corruption of politicians becomes the product of a corrupt personality, not a corrupt system. Since there is no class conflict, there is no room for the novel’s main achievement. Oil! takes Bunny through a process in which he learns not only about how the world works, but about how people organize to change it. Both the movie and book show the Ross expropriation of the farm of the poor Watkins family. But Oil! follows the political radicalization of Paul Watkins—drafted as a doughboy in World War I and then sent with the interventionist armies to put down the Russian revolution. He returns and becomes an oil union leader and then a member of the left wing of the Socialist Party. When that party splits in 1919, Watkins becomes an organizer in the new Communist Party.

Sinclair, whose sympathies were much more with the right wing of the Socialist Party than the left, still draws an admiring portrait of the worldly Paul, showing his courage in facing imprisonment and his eventual fatal beating by right-wing assassins. Sinclair draws out the political differences of the day in his debates with Bunny, whose eyes he opens. Bunny eventually has to choose whose side he’s on. The more he learns about the world, the more he rejects his father’s class, while still loving him as a person. And that class turns against him in the end.

In There Will Be Blood Paul disappears. In his place his evangelist brother Eli becomes the main antagonist to Plainview, a religious hypocrite pitted against a violent and powerful oilman. It is a conflict without social relevance, one the movie hardly bothers to explain. At its lowest point, a grown Bunny gratuitously returns to announce to his father that he’s going to become an investor in Mexican oil wells. Sinclair would have torn his hair out over that one.

Oil! recounts just a small piece of what is now a hidden history of the labor movement before and after World War I. In 1903 the city’s socialist labor council helped Mexican and Japanese farm workers win one of the state’s first agricultural strikes in Oxnard. The LA unions were then shocked when Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, refused to give the workers a union charter unless they rid themselves of their Asian members. Oil! shows the fear the oil operators had for the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World) and their (mostly rhetorical) commitment to sabotage in the workplace. In the city’s real history, two prewar labor leaders, the McNamara brothers, spent their lives in prison after a bomb they planted blew up at the LA Times building.

This was the most turbulent era for the labor and radical movements of Los Angeles. Sinclair describes how the oilmen defeated the workers and socialists and created the “citadel of the open shop.” Bunny resists and makes his father put up money to bail out strikers. But he can’t stop the class war.

Sinclair recreates the era’s radical spirit, weaving political debate, action, and romance into a complex tapestry. He describes Bunny’s sexual awakening as frankly as he could get away with, in an era when books were banned for open descriptions of sex. His women are mostly foils for men and they seem a little wooden in comparison with the intimacy and realism achieved by writers since. Yet Sinclair gets real drama from Bunny’s conflict between his youthful lust for his studio star lover and his growing desire to make a full commitment to political organizing. In the end, he falls for a Jewish socialist who clearly is his equal in debate and greater in her commitment.

Hollywood today has less of the radical spirit that made Reds. It’s not hard for a studio now to reinvent the war in Afghanistan as a crusade (Charlie Wilson’s War), confident that no one will ask why Ronald Reagan bankrolled Osama bin Laden and other extremists, calling them freedom fighters so long as they were willing to fight the Soviets. I can’t wait to see what they do with Central America.

But Los Angeles? Hollywood’s own city? Working class social and political movements get written out of the textbooks all the time. Writing us out of a movie made from Oil! expropriated one of the most important works of our history. I hope the producers don’t have exclusive rights to the book. Perhaps a more courageous group will make the movie as Upton Sinclair wrote it.

Z

David Bacon is a California writer and photographer. His new book Illegal People: How Globalization Causes Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants will be published by Beacon Press this fall.

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Filed under Capital, movie-review, Socialism/Politics/UK/EU/Democratic accountability/Left, trade-unions, USA

The Blanket Editor appears on TV to discuss new movie on Bobby Sands and the legacy of the ‘long war’.



Last week I wrote a piece about the decision to cease publishing the Irish Republican ezine The Blanket; its co-founder and editor Carrie Twomey was interviewed last Thursday on the BBC current affairs program ‘Hearts and Minds’ *along with Richard O’Rawe, who was a contributor to The Blanket and the author of the controversial book ‘The Blanketmen,’ about the Irish republican prisoners blanket protests and the Hunger Strikes that they culminated in. The interviews start 11.49 minutes into the program, [see link below] after an interview with Lord David Trimble and a short piece by Newton Emerson.

The topic under discussion is how the media and history will view and portray the IRA’s 38 year insurgency in the north of Ireland, using the new film ‘Hunger’ previewed at the Cannes Film Festival last week as a tag, as the movie center’s on Bobby Sands imprisonment and hunger strike.**

* http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/page/item/b00bfnx0.shtml?filter=category%3AletterH&scope=iplayercategories&start=1&version_pid=b00bfnww

*** Bobby Sands film wins prestigious award at Cannes, read more at, http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/frontpage/2008/0526/1211740436726.html

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Arrogance, smugness and the Brits: A fine wine of an article


Every now and them you come across an article that says it all, a fine wine of an article. For me the piece written by Eamonn McCann that I republish below falls into this category.

MH

Arrogance, smugness and the Brits, by Eamonn McCann

Nobody knows for certain how much misery and bother has been caused through the ages by the insufferable smugness of the British ruling class.

Historically, the main target of the toffs’ arrogance has been the British working class. But the lesser breeds, including, of course, the Irish, have also come in for insult and jeer from the faunterloy hoodlums and twerps.

One of the most arrogantly offensive of these oily oiks to have come among us in recent years has been Jonathan Powell. As Tony Blair’s “chief of staff”, Powell played a key role in drawing up the compendium of lies, aka the “dodgy dossier,” which provided “justification” for the invasion of Iraq which has so far cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, as well as a number of American and British, lives.

Does Powell show any sign of contrition? Regret? Embarrassment?
Not at all. Low-lifes in high places never do.

Instead, a few weeks back, he came to Belfast swanking, preening himself like a egomaniacal peacock, claiming plaudits for the part he claims to have played in the “peace process.”

I commented at the time of his unwelcome (to me, anyway) visit, remarking that he had given his memoirs the stupidest title in the history of publishing, “Great Hatred, Little Room.” (In fairness, the title is the best thing in the book.)

I didn’t, however, watch the programme, “The Undercover Diplomat,” broadcast by the BBC as a sort of unpaid advertisement for the book.
But, browsing the web (is that the phrase?) last week, I came across a clip from the programme.

It contained Powell’s comment on a visit by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to Downing St. on 5th July 2005—three weeks before the Provisional IRA statement announcing an end to its armed campaign and revealing that it had instructed its members to dump all weapons and not to engage in “any other activities whatsoever” apart from assisting in “the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”.

Powell’s comment in his diary on the Sinn Fein leaders as they left Downing Street was: “It’s funny. They do seem more like politicians now, than capos (a capo is a mafia chieftain]…I think I felt a sense of pride. Not proud in myself, I think, but proud of what they had achieved. It was a bit like watching your children graduate from college. You thought ‘fantastic'”.

Has any representative of the British ruling class ever made such a pointedly patronisingly remark about Irish leaders?

The tiny number of irreconcilable Unionists who refuse to believe that Sinn Fein is now totally committed to peaceful means should consider this: that if there was even a half-hint of a vague willingness to use violence in SF, Powell, after that remark, wouldn’t have made it back to Britland in one piece.

I have never been much of a one for political violence. But if Powell had said that about me, he’d have got a slap in the bake.

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Call for a Peaceful Settlement of the Kurdish Question in Turkey


Kurdish activists call for international mediation of Turkish-Kurdish issue.
One thousand Kurds living in Turkey and European countries and deputies of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party (DTP) have urged leading figures within the international community to get involved in the Kurdish issue by mediating a peaceful settlement.
The call to the international community was voiced through a declaration titled “Call for a Peaceful Settlement of the Kurdish Question in Turkey,” published on Tuesday in the International Herald Tribune and the French daily Le Monde.

Many intellectuals, writers and academics in Turkey have tried for many years to achieve a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue, the 1,000 signatories said in the declaration.

“We express our appreciation and gratitude even though their efforts and initiatives have, unfortunately, not produced conclusive results so far. That is why we are calling on European countries and the United States, who bear part of the historic responsibility for the tragedy experienced by the Kurds throughout the 20th century, not to support policies of negation and violence. Let them help prepare favorable ground for a peaceful settlement by empowering one of their statesmen to act as mediator — someone who has been involved in the settlement of the Irish, Basque, Catalan and Kosovar questions,”

Certain demands were listed as “a basis for Kurdish people’s common minimum demands” in the declaration signed by deputies of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), former members of Parliament, intellectuals and leading Kurdish figures well-known by the European public.

“The [new Turkish] constitution that is being drawn up must not define citizenship on the basis of belonging to Turkish stock. It must put an end to the denial of the Kurdish people’s existence. Kurdish citizens must have a system of public education in their own language at all levels. Their rights to use their language in public, to create and to develop media in the Kurdish language, to found associations, institutions and political parties to develop their culture must be guaranteed. On this basis, in order to create a climate of peace and confidence and, once and for all, to turn the page of violence and armed confrontation, an all-inclusive political amnesty must be decreed, and the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party ] must lay down its arms in accordance with procedures yet to be defined.

In the same way, Turkey’s so-called ‘village guard’ militias [set up be the Turkish military] must be dismantled,” the declaration stated.
“These demands do not call into question existing borders. They express fundamental minimum human rights recognized by all democratic countries and possessed by their citizens,” it noted.

Back in December 2004, a similar declaration titled “What the Kurds Want in Turkey” appeared in the International Herald Tribune, French daily Le Monde and German daily Allgemeine Zeitung. Its main demand which proved controversial in Turkey at the time said Turkey should grant the same rights to Kurds that Ankara seeks for the Turkish Cypriots.

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Oops: German Post Office Accidentally Prints Nazi Stamp



Talk about shoot yourself in the foot, the story below taken from Deutsche Welle web site is about how the German Post Office accidentally re-printed Nazi era Stamps.

MH

Germany’s national postal system inadvertently printed a set of stamps featuring a picture of Nazi leader Rudolf Hess.
Neo-Nazis used a customized postage stamp service offered by German mail carrier Deutsche Post to issue 20 stamps featuring Hess.

Deutsche Post began offering the customized stamp service, Plusbrief Individuell, in February. It allows clients to upload a digital photograph of a loved one or a commercial product. A week later they receive printed, post-paid envelopes showing the same picture.

Neo-Nazis apparently exploited the opportunity by uploading a picture of Hess, who was Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s deputy. Hess committed suicide in Berlin while serving a life sentence for war crimes in Spandau prison. He is a hero to neo-Nazis, who often demonstrate on the anniversary of his death in August. The Post staff did not notice they had been tricked into issuing the 55-cent stamps.

“It was a slip-up. We are very sorry about it,” said Post spokesman Dirk Klasen at the company’s offices in Bonn.

“It runs in most cases without difficulty,” Klasen said. “Only with the Hess image did something go awry. I presume it came from the far-right scene. But those 20 envelopes won’t shake up German democracy.”

Earlier this year, the company intercepted a request to have stamps printed featuring Hitler as a small child, he said.

The latest newsletter of the far-right National Democratic Party gloated about being able to slip the stamp past Deutsche Post’s quality control personnel.

“The Hess stamp is out there,” wrote Hannes Natter in the May edition of Deutsche Stimme, or German Voice.

Deutsche Post is now going to review its oversight procedures, Klasen said, though he added that “there can be no 100 percent certainty” that something else would not slip through.

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