Austria to erect first monument to Nazi 'deserters' of World War II

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Vienna:  Vienna's city council said on Friday that it planned to erect a monument to remember the thousands of people executed by the Nazis for deserting or refusing to serve in the military during World War II.

"The location is a worthy one, aimed at remembering. It is in the city centre, right next to the chancellery and the presidency for those who risked their lives not to serve in the Nazi Wehrmacht and those murdered at the hands of Nazi military justice," said city councilor for culture Andreas Mailath-Pokorny.

Following a long debate, the "Deserteursdenkmal" ("Deserter Monument") will however be located at the Ballhausplatz square, and not at Heldenplatz where Hitler announced the "annexation" of Austria into the Third Reich to cheering crowds in March 1938.

The committee in charge of finding a location decided against Heldenplatz because it is already home to several other monuments and because of the planned construction of an underground car park.

The monument, which will be the first dedicated to deserters in Austria, is due to be completed in 2013, 68 years after the death of Austrian-born Hitler and the end of World War II.

According to Justice for Victims of Nazi Military Justice, a group that campaigned for the monument to be erected, around 15,000 military personnel were executed by the Nazis during the war.

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