- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 5, 2002

LONDON Hundreds of SS veterans who fought for Germany during World War II are living quietly in Britain and attending secret reunions to celebrate their time under the Third Reich.
Evidence of the network's existence has been uncovered following Sunday Telegraph interviews with ex-soldiers from Adolf Hitler's elite divisions, many of whom have lived in Britain since being brought here as prisoners of war after Germany's defeat in 1945.
SS veterans sing old Nazi songs at the gatherings, which have also been attended by members of the anti-immigration British National Party. At least one BNP member has been given honorary membership in the British branch of the Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Ehemaligen Soldaten der Waffen-SS (Mutual Aid Association for Soldiers of the Former Waffen-SS), the SS veterans' association.
The BNP registered its first electoral victory on Friday when three of its members won City Council seats in the northern English town of Burnley.
The existence of SS reunions was confirmed by Werner Volkner, a former corporal with the Totenkopf, or Death's Head division, of the SS, part of which guarded concentration camps. Mr. Volkner, 78, who lives in Cornwall in southwest England, said the meetings are moved from venue to venue across Britain.
"We are notified of when the reunions are to happen, but the information must be kept secret," Mr. Volkner said. He said he knew of other veterans in England, Wales and Scotland but refused to give their identities. "The average age of those attending is 83," he said.
Mr. Volkner said the meetings allow old comrades who had "shared their last crust of bread together during the war" simply to keep in touch and are not used to discuss politics. The singing of Waffen-SS marching songs is done out of nostalgia, he said. "The texts and words go back to 1700, some of them," he said.
The SS short for SchutzStaffel, or Protection Force was formed in 1925 to guard Hitler, and was regarded as the most ruthless and loyal fighting force in the Third Reich.
The Sunday Telegraph investigation into former Nazis has established that SS veterans have infiltrated British society to a previously unimagined extent. Mr. Volkner actually joined the British Army after the war. And he has two sons who have also served in the British forces.
Another former SS member was Janis Lipe, who served in Latvia as a medic with the rank of second lieutenant. After the war, his membership of the SS went unnoticed and he worked during the 1950s at a Jewish hospital in Tottenham High Road in North London.
Mr. Lipe later worked as a nursing orderly at a Jewish old people's home in Balham, South London, and became a dental officer for London County Council in 1958. Mr. Lipe, who lived in Balham, died in 1992 at age 73. Documents confirming his true past, which were taken from his home in a house clearance following his death, have only now come to light. Copies of them are in the possession of the Sunday Telegraph.
The SS reunions are also attended by elements within British neo-Nazi groups. Keith Beaumont, who according to information obtained by the Telegraph is a BNP member, attends many reunions of Waffen-SS. Some are held in Britain, although Mr. Beaumont denies this.
His close friend, Andy Jones, who owns the Crime Through Time museum in Newent, Gloucestershire, in west England and buys Nazi militaria from Mr. Beaumont, said: "Keith has definitely been to Waffen-SS reunions in Britain because he has told me."
Mr. Beaumont, who says his wife, Linda, is a London metropolitan police officer, buys and sells Waffen-SS memorabilia. His home in Holland-on-Sea in Essex is adorned with Nazi paraphernalia.
Mr. Beaumont believes that the Russians built the gas ovens at Auschwitz to make the Nazis look guilty. He describes David Irving, the Holocaust-denying writer, as "the greatest historian Britain has ever had."
Mr. Beaumont has attended so many reunions that he has been awarded honorary membership of the SS veterans' association.
"Across Great Britain as a whole there are hundreds of Waffen-SS veterans," he said.
Yesterday, Mr. Beaumont denied being a current member of the BNP. The party's leader, Nick Griffin, said: "I have no time for this kind of historical necrophilia. If he is a member, then we will be questioning whether he should remain one."

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