Skip to comments.Germany and its Nazi past: forever seeking closure
Posted on 09/25/2013 11:37:46 AM PDT by nickcarraway
As Germany runs out of time to bring ex-Nazis to justice, we examine a country trying to come to terms with its history
It is a week in which Germanys history has seemed inescapable. Yesterday, the German president Joachim Gauck became his countrys first head of state to visit Oradour-sur-Glane, the perfectly preserved French village where, in June 1944, 642 men, women and children were massacred by a Waffen-SS company. On Tuesday, German federal authorities announced that 30 men and women alleged to have acted as guards at the Auschwitz death camp should face prosecution. And at the start of the week, former SS officer Siert Bruins went on trial at a court in Hagen, western Germany, accused of murdering a Dutch resistance fighter while serving with a German border patrol.
The renewed focus on the Third Reich comes at a time when it is rapidly slipping beyond living memory. Bruins is 92; the oldest of the alleged death-camp guards facing indictments is 97. Nazi-hunters, fearing that time will cheat justice, launched a poster campaign in German cities and the Baltic states this summer to track down the last surviving perpetrators. The campaign, Operation Last Chance, told the German public that the hour was Spät aber nicht zu spät late, but not too late.
But there are signs that, despite the flurry of 11th-hour prosecutions, the tone of Germanys national conversation about the Holocaust has shifted that, for some Germans, it is already too late.
Hans Kundnani, author of Utopia or Auschwitz, a book about Germanys 1968 generation and the Holocaust, says: Some time around the millennium, a shift took place the collective memory of Germans as perpetrators started to become weaker, a collective memory in which Germans are victims starts to become stronger. The Allied bombings
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
I can still hear Sir Laurence Olivier's narration:
"Down this road, on a summer day in 1944. . . The soldiers came. Nobody lives here now. They stayed only a few hours. When they had gone, the community which had lived for a thousand years. . . was dead. This is Oradour-sur-Glane, in France. The day the soldiers came, the people were gathered together. The men were taken to garages and barns, the women and children were led down this road . . . and they were driven. . . into this church. Here, they heard the firing as their men were shot. Then. . . they were killed too. A few weeks later, many of those who had done the killing were themselves dead, in battle. They never rebuilt Oradour. Its ruins are a memorial. Its martyrdom stands for thousands upon thousands of other martyrdoms in Poland, in Russia, in Burma, in China, in a World at War..."
I honestly don’t get the point of going after ageing camp guards well into their 90s. War crimes were originally meant for policymakers and higher ups, not low level soldiers and guards.
The Soviets and Chicoms slaughtered millions more people than Hitler did in their gulags, how come no concerted efforts are made to go after their ageing camp guards and personnel?
Especially after Ukrainians, who faced a choice of either getting shot by the Soviets, or getting shot by the Nazis.
They were on the winning side. Only losers get hanged.
A favorite series of mine. Another is the nearly forgotten WW2 GI Diary if I got the title right.
Funny how Austria always seems to get a pass. Some of the most fanatical and evil Nazis were Austrians.
“...how come no concerted efforts are made to go after their ageing camp guards and personnel...”
Because the National Socialists (Nazis) are the BAD socialists.
The International Socialists - Soviets, ChiComs, Democrats - they’re the GOOD socialists!!!
Yup, 8 million Ukrainians (at least) were liquidated by Stalin in Holodomor-—a forgotten holocaust-—no museums, few books, not taught in our schools-—almost completely forgotten.
I feel the same way, and I say that as someone whose paternal grandparents were Auscwitz survivors. Even if they found my grandparents’ prison guards at 90 years of age I would say that going after them at this point is not even close to being among the highest of national or global priorities.
False dichotomy. As if victims cannot also be perpetrators and perpetrators can't also be victims.
In actual fact, most humans are both in their lives, sinned against and sinners.
The notion that they can't be both is part of the idiotic glorification of victimhood. Victims having replaced heroes in our collective mythology. As if victim is not a role we all play to varying degrees, but a designation for specific people, or more accurately certain groups of people. Same being true for perpetrators/oppressors.
BTW, recent research indicates the actual death tolls at both Auschwitz and Dresden were significantly lower than the conventional wisdom.
It is truly a blessing your grandparents survived Auschwitz-—so few did.
How many Auschwitz survivors are alive today?
How many could positively identify a 92 year old camp guard would have been about 25 years old in 1945?
Actually, that was true for a lot more people than Ukrainians. Just about everybody in the eastern half of Europe, for example.
I think only those who have refused to participate in evil despite great risk to their own lives have the moral right to denounce those who failed such a test.
Unfortunately, most of these people were promptly killed, the risk being quite real, and in my experience the relatively few survivors are not particularly likely to do the denouncing.
There is something truly repugnant about people who have never been faced with an existential moral decision piling on scorn against those who have.
There’s something seldom discussed about the surviving guards. There is a general but unspoken conventional wisdom that they were just eeevill people and that was why they did what they did in the camps.
Yet by all accounts most if not all of them promptly disappeared back into society and lived unexceptional and non-criminal lives, in fact often quite admirable lives.
Liberals are constantly claiming that imprisonment should be for purposes of rehabilitation, not revenge/punishment. Yet the great majority of the camp guards appear to have rehabilitated themselves, by liberal standards. So why prosecute elderly men now?
Does the fact that brutality and criminality does not appear to have been root elements in their personalities, as seen by their abandonment of them once the war is over, mean that many if not most people are capable of similar behavior under the same circumstances? Is that sneaking suspicion part of the reason for the apparently unreasonable pursuit of them?
I will simply state this:
THERE ARE NO MAJOR NAZI WAR CRIMINALS ALIVE TODAY. PERIOD.
Anyone alive today was a low level cog in a very big machine, more likely than not conscripted into service and following orders.
I think we should close this chapter on WWII. There is no more need for Nazi war crime hunters....although I do suggest you tune into the Military Channel tonight where they are beginning tonight with a new series on this subject. Tonight I think it will be about Martin Bormann...whose remains were found in Berlin in the 1990s.
If only the Moslem countries were as assiduous in pursuing their war criminals...
You don’t get the point? Then justice for the victims means nothing and all is forgotten. No. The killers shouldn’t have the right to die peacefully in their sleep. Their victims didn’t.
I’m all for going after the Germans and Austrians who ordered the massacres.
Going after Demjanjuk was just Germany’s attempt to say, “See, it wasn’t just Germans who participated in the Holocaust.”
So is murdering a thousand people less murder than two thousand? Or ten thousand murdered less murder than twenty thousand?