Pope 'never in Hitler Youth'

2009-05-12 15:18

Jerusalem - German-born Pope Benedict XVI was never a member of the Hitler Youth, Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said on Tuesday.

"The pope has said he never, never was a member of the Hitler Youth, which was a movement of fanatical volunteers," Lombardi told a news conference.

As a 16-year-old seminarian, the pope was a member of an auxiliary air defence squadron "that had nothing to do with Nazism or Nazi ideology", the spokesperson said.

The statement ran counter to what the pontiff had said in numerous interviews, in which he stated that he was an involuntary member of the Hitler Youth during World War II.

Following the news conference, Lombardi reiterated to AFP that the pope "never was in this movement of young people ideologically linked to Nazism".

He said he made the remarks in order to respond "to the lies written by the media here and internationally" about the issue.