Holocaust Perpetrators Face Justice 70 Years Later

Posted on March 30th, 2016 by:

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Holocaust Perpetrators Face Justice 70 Years Later:

More than 70 years after the end of WWII, some perpetrators of the Holocaust are facing justice for the second time. In what might be the last set of trials for wartime Nazis, the German government has placed four former concentration camp guards on the road to justice. In light of the ruling from the trial of Ukrainian concentration camp guard, John Demjanjuk, guards don’t have to be tried for individual crimes, but rather, collective crimes or as an accessory to them.



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Reinhold Hanning in Nazi Uniform

The four facing trial are Reinhold Hanning, Hubert Zafke, Ernst Tremmel and Hilda Michia lee’ Lisiewicz. Their trials will be held separately, but all will have to face their past and the testimony from survivors of the death camps. In the past, the German government has been known to be lenient on Holocaust defendants; with very few of the known concentration camp guards being punished or brought to trial by the post war government, but with most Holocaust survivors and perpetrators passing away, there was a call for a last push to bring some people to justice before it is too late.

Reinhold Hanning, 94, a retired dairy farmer served in Auschwitz as a guard from 1942 to 1944. Hanning served on the Eastern front before being sent to work at Sachsenhausen and later Auschwitz. He denied serving in the Birkenau death camp section, but prosecutors seem to have evidence he served there as well.

Hubert Zafke, 95, joined the SS in 1939 and was trained at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Zafke served at Auschwitz in 1944, but claims to have seen or done nothing wrong. He was sentenced to three years in prison in Poland after the war but was free to return home after his serving his sentence.

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Concentration Camp Guard, Hubert Zafke

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Reinhold Hanning arrives in court

93 year old Hilda Michia (Lisiewicz) served at the Bergen-Belsen and Gross-Rosen camps. Michia, like the rest, denies culpability and claims to have only worked in the kitchen during her two years while serving in the camps. Originally admitting she had taken prisoners on a forced march in 1945, she now claims she never saw any bodies or anything terrible during her service. Michia’s feels that the government should not be going after ‘small fry’ like her who also suffered under the Hitler regime.

93 year old Ernst Tremmel, also served as a guard at Auschwitz. He is set to stand trial with the other defendants for his service there.

For survivors of the camp the trials are felt more like an acknowledgment of the past. With the guilty at the ends of their lives, jail time and long sentences are unlikely. The survivors are more interested in keeping the memory of the past alive and hope to get some explanation from the guards on how people could do what they did.

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Hilda Michia (Lisiewicz) then and now

The German government is continuing its persecution of Nazi war criminals 70 years after their crimes to show that there is no time limit on justice. It does beg the question why justice was so late in coming for Nazi’s who openly lived in Germany for the past seven decades, only to be prosecuted after a long, full life.

pictures from AP and Reuters

 



 

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