The World Today for October 28, 2021


Justice’s Clock


Seventy-five years ago, the victorious allies of World War II concluded the trials in Nuremberg that resulted in 12 Nazis receiving death sentences for war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Holocaust, or the extermination of six million Jews and millions of others in Europe, the Scotland-based National newspaper wrote.

The job is still not over. In February, the US extradited 95-year-old Friedrich Karl Berger from Tennessee to Germany for his alleged work as an armed guard at the Neuengamme concentration camp, according to the US Department of Justice. German prosecutors eventually dropped the case due to a lack of evidence, the Agence France-Presse reported.

Meanwhile, German prosecutors recently put a former SS guard, 100 years old, on trial as an accessory to more than 3,000 murders. Alongside that case, a German court started proceedings against a 96-year-old woman who worked as a secretary in a Nazi concentration camp. As the BBC explained, Irmgard Furchner fled from her nursing home to avoid appearing in court but was found in nearby Hamburg. Furchner was a “stenographer and typist” who allegedly helped commanders at the Stutthof concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland murder more than 11,000 people, wrote CNN.

Less than one percent of Nazi war criminals have ever faced justice even though it’s estimated that up to a million people were directly or indirectly involved in holocaust atrocities. That statistic understandably galls the descendants of Holocaust victims like Robin Lustig, who recently penned a piece in the Guardian about a new documentary, “Getting Away With Murder,” that shows how “unpunished Nazi war criminals who escaped after 1945…lived the rest of their lives undisturbed.”

The Financial Times described the sensation of watching a scene in the documentary where a drone flies over the notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland. “The obscene scale is made new,” the newspaper wrote. “The death camp seems to go on forever. As a metaphor, the moment fits a film that argues that there can be no end to the Holocaust when so few of its perpetrators ever saw a courtroom.”

One might legitimately ask what’s the purpose of prosecuting elderly folks who participated or became caught up, willingly and unwillingly, in the Nazi death machine. Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff has no time for these arguments. In the Irish Times, he explained how war criminals who escaped the consequences of their horrific actions should never get off scot-free. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the perpetrators,” he wrote.

Humiliating Nazis is an end in itself, too, wrote ethicist Zachary Goldberg in the Washington Post. It gives society a chance to reaffirm values, identifies what is beyond the pale and elevates victims who suffered unspeakable crimes.

There is great value to never forgetting.

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