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Cleveland Plain Dealer | 03Sep2013 | Associated Press,  Rashke
German prosecutors' office
to pursue charges against former Auschwitz guards
[W.Z. When will the "German
special prosecutors' office" (a counterpart to the Office of Special
Investigations in the United States) investigate and prosecute the war
crimes of the Soviet and Western Allied Armies during and
following WWII? Failure to do so is an insult to the memory of millions
of people, especially Germans, who were ethnically cleansed,
incinerated, starved, raped, tortured and murdered by the "Victors
seeking vengeance against the Vanquished". When will Kurt Schrimm,
Thomas Walther, Ulrich Maas, Rebecca Whittmann, other German
prosecutors and Germans, in general, develop a moral courage and self
respect to pray for the souls of their dead at Bitburg Cemetery?]
LUDWIGSBURG, Germany -- The German special prosecutors' office
that investigates Nazi war crimes said today it is recommending charges
against dozens of alleged former Auschwitz guards, opening the
possibility of a new wave of trials almost 70 years after the end of
World War II.
Federal prosecutor Kurt Schrimm, the head of the office in
Ludwigsburg, said an investigation of 49 suspects turned up enough
evidence to recommend that state prosecutors pursue charges of
accessory to murder against 30 people in Germany who were stationed at
the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Another seven suspects who live outside the country are still
being investigated, two could not be found, and one further case has
already gone to prosecutors, he said. Those living abroad are in
Austria, Brazil, Croatia, the U.S., Poland and even one in Israel,
Schrimm said without giving further details.
The names and hometowns of the suspects were not released.
Schrimm said the oldest suspect was born in 1916 and the youngest in
1926, meaning they could range in age from 86 to 97.
The cases are being sent to the responsible state prosecutors'
offices in 11 of Germany's 16 states. It will be up to them to
determine whether the elderly suspects -- primarily men but also some
women -- are fit to stand trial and whether to bring official charges.
"The biggest enemy is time," Schrimm told reporters.
Accessory to murder charges can be filed under the same legal
theory that Munich prosecutors used to try former Seven Hills, Ohio,
autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died in a Bavarian nursing home last
year while appealing his 2011 conviction on charges he served as a
Sobibor death camp guard, Schrimm said.
Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in
Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no
evidence of involvement in a specific killing. Under the new legal
argument, anyone who was involved in the operation of a death camp was
an accessory to murder. Demjanjuk steadfastly maintained that he had
been mistaken for someone else and never served as a camp guard.
Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal
in Jerusalem, said the decision could mean even more cases will be
opened against guards at the other five main death camps established by
"We commend the (prosecutors) for seeking to apply the
precedent as widely as possible and hope that they will be able to find
as many perpetrators as possible," he said in a telephone interview.
"It's only a shame that this kind of legal reasoning was not
applied previously, because it would have led to many, many more cases
of people who definitely deserved to be brought to justice."
Schrimm said that even guards who worked in a death camp's
kitchens played a role in the facility's function as a site that
existed for the purpose of mass murder.
Schrimm cautioned that the health of the suspects -- and of
possible witnesses -- would make bringing them to trial difficult.
"I don't want to raise excessive expectations," he said.
The Nazis built six main death camps, all in occupied Poland:
Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka.
The Auschwitz and Majdanek complexes also had labor camps
associated with them, but Schrimm said the suspects in the current
investigation all worked in the main death camp, known as
As part of the investigation prosecutors surveyed anew the
Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and concluded no one could have been there for
more than a day or two without learning that people were being gassed
to death and their bodies incinerated at the site, he said.
About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at the
Auschwitz camp complex alone between 1940 and 1945. Overall, about 6
million Jews died in the Nazi Holocaust.
Schrimm's office is now focusing on the other death camps,
starting with investigating all former personnel at Majdanek. He said
expects to announce results of the Majdanek probe within six months.
Investigators are also looking into former members of the
so-called "einsatzgruppen" -- death squads that were responsible for
mass killings, particularly early in the war before the death camps
were established, Schrimm said.
He said he did not see extending the Demjanjuk precedent,
however, to the Nazis' network of hundreds of concentration camps --
places like Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald -- where many tens of
thousands died but whose purpose was not solely extermination.
In cases of guards from those camps, prosecutors still need
evidence of a specific crime in order to bring charges, he said.
David McHugh and David Rising, Associated Press.
Rising reported from Berlin.
[J.S. Another clever spin article! "And because Demjanjuk died before his final appeal
was heard, he is technically innocent under German law and will have no
criminal record." Notice how cleverly the author spins this while
bemoaning German legal standards of a past century he neglects current
German medical-legal standards! In the USA if ANY doctors
with the "medication" (banned in the USA because of its fatal side
effects) that they forced upon him in Germany -- they would not only be
with malpractice but with murder and they would be convicted!
W.Z. We have noted previously
that, as a charter member of the Holocaust Industry, the role of
Richard Raschke is to blovate about Nazis, war criminals, death camps,
gassed corpses, Auschwitz, Treblinka, etc. such as to try to deflect
the public's attention from world wide efforts to curtail the
criminality of the Israeli government and Jewish organizations.]
Daily Beast | 06Sep2013 | Richard Rashke
How to Try a Nazi
It’s never too late to convict a Nazi. And
if Germany finds 30 alleged Auschwitz guards guilty, it can thank a man
named John Demjanjuk. Richard Rashke on the long path to justice.
If those seeking Holocaust justice applaud the recent decision of
German prosecutors to file charges against 30 alleged Auschwitz guards,
they have John Demjanjuk to thank. Unwittingly, the Ukrainian-born,
German POW and death camp guard reversed over 140 years of German
jurisprudence. His 2009-11 trial and conviction established a
yet-to-be-challenged legal precedent that prosecutors will now rely on
in trying the alleged Auschwitz guards.
In 1958, 13 years after the war ended, Germany had created and
funded a special office to prosecute Nazi war criminals. Over the
years, that office conducted more than 100,000 investigations and its
courts convicted more than 6,000 war criminals. But it hasn’t tried a
single Nazi or Nazi collaborator for nearly 20 years. The German Nazi
war crimes office appeared to be doing nothing but spending money and
Defenders of Germany’s track record on war crimes argue that
at least it had the courage to face the crimes of its former leaders.
What about the rest of world, especially the United States and Great
Britain, which had been so eager to try and convict Nazi war criminals
at Nuremberg? How many public war crimes trials had those countries
initiated to prosecute and sentence their own war criminals?
And how dare the U.S. and Great Britain criticize Germany when they had
hired and protected thousands of alleged Nazi war criminals and their
collaborators during the Cold War?
The picture wasn’t quite that rosy. The German Nazi trials of
the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s were riddled with acquittals and short
sentences that amounted to a rap on the knuckles with a feather. True,
approximately 180 Nazis got the maximum sentence -- life in
prison -- allowable under German law. However, several thousand guards
concentration, labor, and death camps, Einsatzkommandos
who belonged to roving death squads, and T-4 Euthanasia workers were
sentenced to only one to three years in prison.
Hundreds more, including Otto Horn, who had supervised the burying of
gassed corpses at Treblinka, and Karl Streibel, commandant of the
Trawniki camp that trained death camp guards in eastern Poland, were
acquitted in a liberal -- some would say scandalous -- interpretation
German criminal code.
Critics of German war crimes trials like Rebecca Whittmann
point out that the majority of the judges and attorneys involved in the
early trials had served the Third Reich during the war. Most had
actively participated in the Reich’s criminal justice system and had
been former Nazis who provided the legal rationale for the
post-Nuremberg war crimes trials, sat on the benches, pronounced
judgment, determined sentences, and provided criminal defenses.
Furthermore, Germany also clung fast to its 1871 criminal
code, which did not have statutes covering war crimes or crimes against
humanity. Other countries like Israel and France revised their post-war
penal codes in order to deal with the unique legal problems inherent in
trying defendants for such war crimes.
There was a self-serving reason for German jurists’ steadfast
refusal to update their penal code. Without an update, Nazi war
criminals had to be tried for regular murder, which excluded “desk
murderers” (Schreibtischtšter) like themselves. As
Whittmann aptly put it: “[They] were loath to institute laws that could
hold them accountable as lawmakers during the Nazi period.”
Who then could be tried as a war criminal under the 1871 penal
code? Only exceptionally sadistic men and women, usually camp guards
like Hermine Braunsteiner, who received a life sentence for her brutal
murder of women and children. As a result, it was almost impossible to
convict the vast majority of Nazi criminals. Indeed, under the 1871
statutes, a prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt
that the accused both intended to kill someone and
was motivated to kill someone. If he just followed
orders, he did not necessarily have intent or motive.
Whittmann explains that in interpreting that definition of
regular murder, German judges and jurists crafted two self-serving
guiding principles. The first, Befehlsnotstand,
protected a defendant from the charge of murder if he obeyed a superior
officer’s command to kill because disobeying it would have endangered
his own life. A favorite defense argument, Befehlsnotstand
was responsible for most post-Nuremberg acquittals. The second defining
principle was Exzess. In order to be convicted of
wartime murder, the defendant had to be an Exzesstšter
who had committed excessive acts of cruelty in killing. This would
include someone like Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon.
Ultimately, the postwar German courts used the 1871 code to
excuse abettors who had participated in a killing process
but had not directly committed murder. It also freed those who killed
on order without committing excessive acts of cruelty.
A new generation of German Nazi war crimes prosecutors like Ulrich Maas
and Thomas Walther were not happy working within the narrow confines of
this outmoded, protective, and unfair code.
“We criminal prosecutors have sometimes felt like road workers
who are handed a screwdriver instead of a jackhammer,” Maas complained
to Spiegel Online. He went on to compare
prosecuting low-level Nazi criminals to trying shoplifters. “You feel a
certain queasiness…The big economic fraudsters manage to get away
scot-free. But the alternative cannot be to let the shoplifter go, too.”
Government prosecutors in the Demjanjuk case signaled to the
Munich Regional Court that they were willing to reverse the historical
legal trend when they charged the defendant with assisting
in the murder of 29,060 Jews at Sobibor. These charges obviously went
beyond the definition of regular murder in the 1871 German penal code
that was still in use.
The panel of seven judges in the Demjanjuk trial -- four legal
professionals and three lay people -- were much younger than their
predecessors, and they were born after the war. Would they set a
precedent and redefine the law because they viewed it as legally
unsound? Would they commit an act of courage that would repudiate 60
years of German war crimes decisions? Or would they duck their
responsibility to right what the rest of the world viewed as a terrible
The judges convicted John Demjanjuk, setting the legal stage
for Germany’s recent decision to prosecute the 30 alleged Auschwitz
guards. Then, taking into consideration that he had already spent eight
years in American and Israeli jails, they sentenced Demjanjuk to five
years in prison.
In the end, the Demjanjuk decision turned out to be a bitter
irony both for him and Holocaust justice. In l966, a German court in
Hagen had acquitted four of Demjanjuk’s SS superiors at Sobibor, even
though they supervised the killing process. And because Demjanjuk died
before his final appeal was heard, he is technically innocent under
German law and will have no German criminal record.
The prosecutors who plan to try the alleged Auschwitz guards
for aiding and abetting in the death of prisoners understand the
obstacles they face. The evidence against the alleged guards is old or
difficult to verify. And the accused are now, or soon will be, in their
90s. Like Demjanjuk before them, it is unlikely that any of these
defendants will live through their trials and appeals. If so, that’s
the final irony. The precedent Demjanjuk set will be buried in the
graveyard of legal limbo.