Friday 2 December 2011, 10:40
The National Library of Wales has been criticised by Heritage Minister Huw Lewis AM for accepting a bequest of £300,000 and archive material from a Frenchman, Louis Feutren, who served in the Waffen SS during World War Two.
The SS was a notorious paramilitary wing of Adolf Hitler's army, acting as the Nazi leader's bodyguard, a fighting force and running death camps.
Feutren's archive, which includes a collection of papers and tapes, details his life as a Breton who was a member of the region's nationalist group Gwenn-ha-Du (white and black - the name of the Breton flag) and the Bezen Perrot movements during the war.
After the war Mr Feutren fled France and travelled through Wales, eventually settling in the Republic of Ireland where he married. He died in 2010.
Heritage Minister Huw Lewis said he was disappointed that the National Library of Wales had accepted the bequest, which includes "material of significant historical importance".
"I made our position perfectly clear that we felt the acceptance of this bequest could affect the reputation of the National Library of Wales"
The National Library of Wales took expert legal advice in coming to its decision to accept the bequest. It said some of the money would be used on projects associated with the destructive effects of war and fascism.
Speaking about the decision, the retiring president of the National Library of Wales, Lord Wigley, said: "This is a notable collection that includes material of significant historical importance.
"Though I utterly condemn his political leanings and activities during the war, we had no right, as board members, to allow our feelings to interfere with our decision."
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