Charging Nazis in 2021: Why Germany is putting a 100 year old man on trial
Nazis have made a rush back to headlines over the past four years, as the divisive political climate in the U.S. has resulted in the appearance of neo-Nazis and Nazi sympathizers at protests & counter-protests across the country.
This resurgence has led many to say that Nazis are back, but in many ways, Nazis have never left after the end of World War II in 1945, and many remained lurking in the shadows while congregating in secret. Hate begets hate, and a new generation of Nazis has emerged, as we somehow continue to deal with the problem of this group in 2021.
Nazis new & old
Nazi sentiment is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away, as even in the recent storm of the U.S. Capitol in early January, a man was shown wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt. Such a display makes light of the brutal concentration camp which killed over a million Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and others during the Holocaust.
Seventy-six years have passed since Auschwitz was liberated, but an estimated 190,000 survivors of the Holocaust are still alive today, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Furthermore, the number of Holocaust survivors is sadly met with thousands of Nazis who have lived past the time of the Nuremberg trials and perhaps many in smaller discriminatory roles who were never convicted of their crimes against humanity during the Holocaust. Newsweek reported this week that such a Nazi is currently being prosecuted in Germany, over fifty years after the end of World War II.
A 100-year-old man has been charged with crimes related to a Nazi concentration camp, and he’s the second person charged for such crimes so far in 2021.
The man lives in Brandenburg, Germany, an area in the northeast section of the country, and has been charged by prosecutors in Neuruppin, a city just an hour & a half drive north. The centenarian’s name has not been released, but he has reportedly been charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder.
The importance of the case against the Brandenburg man has been underscored by Christoph Heubner, vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee. Heubner stated that justice has no expiration date, and that the case is paramount to the elderly survivors of concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
The charged man allegedly served as a guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp between 1942 & 1945. Sachsenhausen concentration camp was located in Oranienburg, Germany, less than sixty miles north of the man’s current home in Brandenburg.
Sachsenhausen held 200,000 inmates during the time of its operation, and Nazis killed half of that population in the camps, which consisted of Jews, political prisoners, gay people, and Romani people.
Sachsenhausen was a large labor camp with many subdivisions and was outfitted with a gas chamber, as well as a section for medical experiments.
Inmates at Sachsenhausen died from labor exhaustion, random acts of killing, and from the brutal archaic medical experiments performed against their will. It’s said Sachsenhausen was known for pioneering the gas chambers that were made widespread during the Holocaust and used for mass killing during the final years of World War II.
One of two
The 100-year-old Brandenburg man who faces charges this week isn’t the first Nazi who’s facing prosecution in 2021. A 95-year-old woman was charged last month for her complicity in Nazi war crimes, allegedly serving as secretary at the Stutthof concentration camp.
The Stutthof concentration camp existed in what is now present-day Northern Poland, and the woman, identified only as “Irmgard F.”, is charged with complicity in over 10,000 cases of murder at the camp.
This recent case of Irmard F. echoes last year’s conviction of 93-year-old former Stutthof guard identified as “Bruno D.”, and can only lead us to believe German officials will continue to show no tolerance to Nazi war criminals, regardless of advanced age.