Princess Says Documents Show Her Father Was ‘Honorary’ SS Major
LONDON (AP) _ German-born Princess Michael of Kent’s father was only an ″honorary″ major in the Nazi SS, according to a document from a postwar tribunal released today by her Kensington Palace residence.
The 40-year-old princess had promised to provide evidence exonerating her late father, Baron Gunther von Reibnitz, and showing he didn’t take part in concentration camp atrocities after a British newspaper revealed April 15 that he held SS officer’s rank.
Princess Michael said she had not known before about her father’s link to the Nazi elite troops. She said she was ashamed, but would just ″have to live with it.″
The judgment rendered by the Upper Bavaria Appeal Tribunal said that as a horsebreeder, von Reibnitz joined the ″Cavalry SS″ in 1934.
But he came in conflict with Nazi Party authorities that year. The conflict escalated, and he was dismissed from the SS for disciplinary reasons in 1944.
The document, released in German along with a translation into English, said von Reibnitz never actually served with the SS.
″He had no authority to give orders of any kind and had merely the right to wear the uniform and hold the rank. It was thus a matter of pure honorary rank,″ it said.
The appeals court placed von Reibnitz in the category of ″nominal party member,″ overturning a lower court judgment that had categorized him as a ″less incriminated person.″
The Upper Bavaria Appeal Tribunal was one of the tribunals set up under the De-Nazification and De-Militarization Law of March 5, 1946, when what is now West Germany was still under Allied military rule.
The court was administered by Germans. Von Reibnitz appeared before it to appeal the finding by the lower tribunal.
The higher court refused to class him as an active resister.