I’ve been reading in the news lately about the Polish government’s search for more German war criminals to put on trial. The trials will be conducted by the Germans in German courts.
After the conviction of John Demjanjuk in a German court, I predicted in this blog post on May 12, 2011 that Germany would have more trials based on the “common design” ex-post-facto law. German courts will now “proceed according to precedent” and use this ex-post-facto law to convict more Germans who served at concentration camps during World War II. I assume that the German government will also pay for their incarceration in nursing homes. The World War II German criminals are at least 85 or 86 years old now. At the time that they were working in a concentration camp, they didn’t know that someday they might be convicted as a war criminal just for BEING THERE.
Here is a quote from a news article about Poland’s new investigations, which you can read in full here:
The Institute of National Remembrance – a research body affiliated with the Polish government – stated last week that the main “purpose of the investigation is a thorough and comprehensive explanation of the circumstances of” the crimes that took place at Auschwitz.
During November 2010, there were “852 ongoing investigations of Nazi war criminals,” though there are certainly others living in secret, according to Slate. From the past decades, these people have essentially been getting away with their crimes, living quiet lives among the families of their victims. All because they aren’t criminals of the same caliber as those prosecuted at Nuremburg or Dachau. They were the lower ranking members of the Gestapo and the SS, following orders and murdering and torturing innocent people. For this reason, lower-ranking soldiers should not be left to live their lives after war: They should be prosecuted just like their superior officers have been. Lower-ranking soldiers are just as guilty as the upper command and should be treated as such.
The re-launched investigation into Auschwitz can be the way to address this problem, even without convictions by the Institute of National Remembrance. Instead, this Polish body can make inquiries, form conclusions, make indictments, and leave obtaining convictions to the German government. In the past year, Germany has been able to convict John Demjanjuk “based on the theory that if he worked there, he was part of the extermination process, even without direct proof of any specific killings,” according to the Huffington Post. This new German precedent, along with the fact that Berlin asks to be allowed to extradite Nazi war criminals, gives new hope for convictions.