Friday, 21 February 2014

Is this really worth it?

From the BBC

Three men aged 88, 92 and 94 have been detained by German authorities on suspicion of being guards at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

The homes of a number of men were raided in three German states, months after prosecutors investigating Nazi-era war crimes announced they were recommending charges against 30 people.

The three men taken into custody have been sent to a prison hospital.

More than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered at Auschwitz.

I know there's a thing of justice prevailing and all of that, but one or two of them will be dead before they come to trial, where they'll be facing identification from people with fading eyesight and bad memories (the youngest person is likely to be 75). Then at worst they'll end up in something like an old people's home.

And what's their crime? Being prison guards, which makes them (apparantly) accessories to murder. So, what about all the soldiers of the German army that defended Poland from invasion of the Red Army that allowed Auschwitz to remain open? Are they not accessories? Train drivers that carried Jews to the death camps? The men who made the ovens? You can argue that anyone who in any way assisted the Nazis in any way is an accessory to the murders at Auschwitz by that reasoning, and therefore a very large percentage of the elderly German population should be on trial.

Which is why we don't generally do this sort of thing with bad regimes today. You accept that there is a systemic element and you round up the leaders of the system, shoot them and let the footsoldiers go.


paulc156 said...

Drawing the line is arbitrary but restricting prosecutions to those who made policy rather than those who enforce it acts an incentive for functionaries who want to climb the career ladder or lower ranks who might be predisposed to give free rein to their bestial side. They should preferably, at least fear punitive action in the event they end up on the losing side at some point.

DBC Reed said...

What Paul says. They should be hunted down without remorse.

Ralph Musgrave said...

I think allied troops at the D Day landings were told to "take no prisoners" for the first 48 hours or so, I.e. shoot surrendering Germans rather than take them prisoner, which is against the Geneva Convention. Surprise, surprise, the people giving that order were never arrested.