Nazi past puts ski field on slippery slope

Mt Hutt is facing an uphill battle to keep one of its ski trails named after Willi Huber.

Huber is regarded as the founding father of the Mt Hutt Ski Area. But Huber’s past is now beginning to catch up with him.

Huber served in the German Waffen SS during World War 2.

An Austrian, he volunteered for the SS as a 17-year-old.

Willi Huber.
Willi Huber.
Anyone volunteering for the SS would have had strong Nazi ideals - the SS was Hitler’s private fighting branch within the German war machine.

The SS was a great force in battle; heroic, courageous and skillful.

But they were also cold-blooded murderers with a fearsome reputation.

Thousands of innocent civilians died at their hands.

They organised the transport of Jews and others to concentration camps, and served as guards at the camps.

A SS unit arriving at your village would usually mean things were unlikely to end well.

The SS was particularly brutal in Russia, where Huber served in a tank division.

Willi Huber served in the tank division of the German Waffen SS during World War 2. Photo: Getty...
Willi Huber served in the tank division of the German Waffen SS during World War 2. Photo: Getty Images
Nothing has been revealed to show or suggest Huber was involved in atrocities during World War 2.

He was rewarded for his bravery, winning the Iron Cross (first class) during the huge tank battle against the Russians at Kursk.

But the mere fact he was part of the SS is enough to raise the question whether his name is suitable for a trail at Mt Hutt.

Huber died early this month aged 98, and the publicity has rekindled debate over his war past.

A petition signed by more than 2000 people is calling on Mt Hutt to drop Huber’s name and plaque from the ski trail.

Ski field management appear to be resisting.

Earlier his week, Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie told The Press Huber was acknowledged on the mountain because of his “significant” involvement in the ski area’s founding.

"We recognise him as an important figure in our history,” he said.

"We understand the views of people who have signed the petition.

"However, we cannot change the fact Willi Huber was integral to the inception of Mt Hutt."

Mt Hutt. Photo: Getty Images
Mt Hutt. Photo: Getty Images
In 2017, Huber featured on TVNZ’s Sunday programme, Father of the Mountain.

He told the programme he was not aware of Nazi concentration camps until the “bitter end".

“We all agreed it was wrong.”

But it is folly to think Huber would not have known about, and seen, what the SS inflicted on civilians during the war.

barry@starmedia.kiwi

 

 

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