Labour must apologise for "Nazi" comparisons in leaflet

2008 Gorffenaf 11 10:31 AM

The Liberal Democrat Leader of Cardiff Council, Rodney Berman, is demanding an unreserved apology for a Labour leaflet being circulated in the Trowbridge area of Cardiff which draws analogies between Liberal Democrat campaigners and the German Nazi regime.

The leaflet has been circulated by Cardiff Council's Labour Group Leader, Councillor Ralph Cook, together with Councillor Monica Walsh, Lorraine Barrett AM and Alun Michael MP.

It describes the Liberal Democrat leaflet campaign in Trowbridge in the run up to May's local elections as a "blitzkrieg". One paragraph describes the Lib Dems as "an electioneering army" and goes on to state that "their storm-troopers invaded Trowbridge daily, blitzing residents with propaganda".

Councillor Rodney Berman said: "I am nothing short of outraged by the wording used in this leaflet. Words like 'blitzkrieg' and 'storm-troopers' are synonymous with the German Nazi regime during the second world war and it is abundantly clear that the intention was to liken the Liberal Democrats to the Nazis.

"This is completely unacceptable and deeply offensive. I am shocked that both the Leader of Cardiff's Labour Group and a former First Secretary are associating themselves with such inappropriate language.

"Labour appears to be implying that no other party should have a right to campaign in any territory it represents - but it's high time the party realised that it does not have a divine right to rule.

"All the Liberal Democrats have done is to fully engage in the democratic process and ensure that voters in Trowbridge had the opportunity of a clear choice during the recent local elections. This is in fact completely at odds with the Nazi's approach to democracy and, not withstanding the offensiveness of these comparisons, this shows how much these Labour slurs are completely wide of the mark.

"Ralph Cook, Monica Walsh, Alun Michael and Lorraine Barrett should now unreservedly apologise for this leaflet. They must also publish an assurance that they will not repeat such tactics in the future and I challenge them to do so as a matter of urgency."

ENDS

Notes: The following dictionary definition extracts are reproduced from Webster's Online Dictionary (www.websters-online-dictionary.org):

BLITZKRIEG

Specialty Definition: Blitzkrieg

In military history, Blitzkrieg, from the German lightning war, describes a military tactic used by the German army at the beginning of World War II, where rapid and unrestricted movement of troops allows no time for the opposition to set up a stable defense. In 2003, the term effects-based warfare and rapid dominance were introduced to describe a modernized version of Blitzkrieg.

Blitzkrieg was a fast and open style of warfare, heavily reliant on new technologies. First aircraft were used as long-range artillery to destroy enemy strongholds, attack troop concentrations, and spread panic. Then combined arms forces of tanks and motorised infantry coordinated by two-way radio destroyed tactical targets before moving on, deep into enemy territory. A key difference to previous tactical models was the devolution of command. Fairly junior officers in the field were encouraged to use their own initiative, rather than rely on a centralised command structure.

The strategy was developed as a reaction to the static attrition of trench warfare during World War I and became practical in the early 1930s, due to the increasing power and reliability of the internal combustion engine, and the invention of the portable radio which allowed for coordination of attacks. A number of military figures in several nations realized that static warfare was an outmoded concept and could be defeated by concentrating forces on a narrow point in a fast thrust.

The key to Blitzkrieg was to organize the troops into mobile forces with excellent communications and command, able to keep the momentum up while the battle unfolded. The basic concept was to concentrate all available forces at a single spot in front of the enemy lines, and then break a hole in it with artillery and infantry, easy enough to do even in World War I. Once the hole was opened, tanks could rush through and strike hundreds of miles to the rear. This allowed the attacking force to fight against lightly armed logistics units, starving the enemy of information and supplies. In this way even a small force could destroy a much larger one through confusion, avoiding direct combat as much as possible.

STORMTROOPER

Specialty Definition: Sturmabteilung

The Sturmabteilung (SA, German for 'Assault Division' and sometimes translated stormtroopers) functioned as a paramilitary organisation of the NSDAP - the German Nazi party. It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s. SA men were often known as brown shirts from the color of their uniform and to distinguish them from the SS who were known as black shirts.

The term Sturmabteilung originally came from the specialized assault troops used by Germany in the March 1918 campaign in World War I. Instead of a large mass assault, the Sturmabteilung were organized into small teams of a few soldiers each. This allowed the Germans to push back British and French lines tens of kilometers.

Hitler himself founded the SA in 1921 in Munich. It originally functioned as a group of bodyguards to enforce order at Nazi gatherings. Under their popular leader, Ernst Röhm, the SA grew in importance within the Nazi power structure, eventually claiming thousands of members. The SA carried out numerous acts of violence against socialist groups throughout the 1920s, typically in minor street-fights. The SS eventually took over their original role.

After Hitler took power in 1933 the SA became increasingly anxious for power and saw themselves as the replacement for the German army. This angered the regular army (Reichswehr) who were already quite annoyed at the Nazi party. It also led to tension with other leaders within the party, who saw Röhm's increasingly powerful SA as a threat to their own personal ambitions.

In order to ally himself with conservative forces within the German Army and to strengthen his position within the Nazi Party, Hitler ordered the execution of the leadership of the SA which took place on 29 - 30 June, 1934 on what is known as the Night of the Long Knives. Victor Lutze became the new leader of the SA, and the organization was soon marginalized in the Nazi power structure.

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