‘We didn’t betray Prince Harry. Honest…’

In their edition of February 20, the German women’s magazine Frau im Spiegel speculated that Prince Harry might be in Iraq on service without the public knowing.

It took till this Tuesday for the issue to be picked up by Germany’s mass-circulation daily tabloid, Bild, the most sold newspaper in Europe. Frau im Spiegel, according to Bild, had quoted a “palace insider” who claimed that it was “entirely possible that he’s on service in Iraq or Afghanistan”. Bild went on:

There has been no official statement on it. Or: they’re not allowed to give one.

Standard tabloid conventions here. However, Bild will usually keep to another tabloid convention: bragging about getting there first (I know, I know, I’m guilty too).

Not this time, it seems. Four days after bringing the story to a wider audience — even if it took two days for the rest of the world to follow — Bild have removed the story from their website.

I’ve checked whether they always remove old stories from the site, and they don’t — a Google News search shows that content from several days back seems still to be there.

Thankfully, I saved the page as a PDF when I first saw it. The Bild page and the Frau im Spiegel contents page are pictured.

Are they embarrassed to admit that they put Prince Harry’s life in danger by reporting it – and want the attention to be deferred to the US site that first confirmed the story?

Whatever the motive, it’s strange behaviour from a paper that doesn’t usually go in for holding back.

Same newspaper, different source of embarrassment

It’s Bild-bashing week this week. The populist tabloid’s latest campaign against Wikipedia for being an “unreliable” source of information is laughable and gets me looking in the dictionary for the German for “pots” and “kettles”. BILDBlog, a blog exposing Bild’s recklessness, cleverly points out that portraits of Daniel Day-Lewis und Tilda Swinton from Wednesday’s paper were almost identical to their entries on — you guessed it — Wikipedia. Red faces all round.

Left out

A few important points were edited out my piece in Friday’s Cherwell on the German Left and the significance of its rise, 40 years on from 1968. My claim that

It’s perhaps no wonder that Die Linke [today’s communist party in Germany], despite its electoral success, is finding it difficult getting accepted by the political establishment

needs to be preceded by the following facts about the 1968 conference happening this May, which substantiate my (otherwise unsubstantiated) point that the German Left are “doing little grappling” with their terrorist past. This paragraph was edited out:

Yet the contents of the May conference suggest that nothing much has changed. One speaker at the event, Jutta Ditfurth, has written a sympathetic biography of Meinhof [one of the Baader-Meinhof activists] described by the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel as an attempt to rescue the terrorist’s reputation. Another planned speaker was a member of a different extreme-left organisation surveilled under the constitution protection law, Rote Hilfe (“Red Aid”), until she took up the national headship of the Young Socialists three months ago. Rote Hilfe is a group that supports political victims of the state — so long as they’re of a left-wing persuasion. Past beneficiaries of its support include former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a policeman in the US in 1981, as well as imprisoned members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang [the German left-wing terror group formed in the 60s].

In other words, the organisers of the conference are voluntarily associating themselves with active terrorist sympathisers. There was also a factual inaccuracy caused by the editing. Where it says

The Social Democrat Party would easily form a ruling majority if it accepted a coalition with the far-left party,

this is only actually the case in the federal state of Hesse. This has nothing to do with national government. This delicate fact was removed. I could list several other editions that destroyed the piece, but I won’t bore you more…

Bad form

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Concern that Oxford is now the only university in the UK that requires an additional application form to the main UCAS caboodle would move anyone versed in German bureaucracy to hysterics. Think you have to do lots of paperwork? Well, to apply to study for just one year in Germany I had to provide:

* An online application form — very long, with my entire education and employment history

* The same form in (hand)writing, in triplicate — one copy for each university

* A letter from my college confirming my student status

* Officially approved and stamped photocopies of all my A-Level certificates. I had to do this twice because it wasn’t good enough the first time, for some reason.

I don’t think anyone in Britain should be complaining about having to fill in forms.

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