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The Rudel Scandal of 1976 ( ) was a political affair in Germanymarker concerning the German Army's dealing with the traditions of the Wehrmacht and its political implications.

In the spring of 1976, businessman and former Luftwaffe Colonel Hans-Ulrich Rudel, who had returned from Paraguaymarker and earlier been a leading member of the Neo-Nazi German Reich Party, was invited by high ranking Bundeswehr officers to a tradition meeting of the Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 "Immelmann". Rudel was considered a persona non grata by the Ministry of Defense because of his undiminished admiration of Adolf Hitler, but finally he was invited, and attended as the last commander of Schlachtgeschwader 2 "Immelmann", after an intervention of the opposition's spokesman for Defense, Manfred Wörner.

Present at the meeting, where Rudel signed his books and gave autographs to soldiers, were the Luftwaffe Generals Karl Heinz Franke and Walter Krupinski. Later on, the Generals publicly compared Rudel's past as a Nazi and Neo-Nazi supporter to the career of prominent Social Democrat leader Herbert Wehner, who had been a member of the German Communist Party in the 1930s and who had lived in Moscowmarker during World War II, where he was allegedly involved in NKVD operations. Calling Wehner an extremist, they said that Rudel, after all, was an honourable man, and "hadn't stolen the family silver or anything else".

When these remarks became public, the Federal Minister of Defence Georg Leber ordered them into early retirement as of 1 November 1976. Leber, himself a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), however, was heavily criticised for his actions by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) opposition, and the scandal contributed to the Minister's retirement in early 1978.


  1. Die Generäle von gestern, in Die ZEIT 46/1976

Die Rudel-Affäre @ Geschichte der Luftwaffe

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