Scrapbookpages Blog

September 19, 2012

By what authority does Germany have the right to try non-German citizens?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 6:24 pm

According to a news article, which you can read here, German prosecutors are investigating an 87-year-old suspect who has been accused of “involvement” in mass murder at Auschwitz. The suspect is not German and he is not currently living in Germany.  [Update July 5, 2014: This must be Johann Breyer.]

This quote is from the news article:

[The unnamed suspect] was allegedly a camp guard in 1944, when about 344,000 Jews from Hungary were murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers in occupied Poland.

Prosecutors in Weiden, Bavaria, are to decide whether to charge him and try to bring him to Germany to face trial.

The man is believed to have lived in the Weiden area before going abroad after World War II.

German officials have not named him, but the Sueddeutsche Zeitung news website says the suspect is believed to be a Slovak now living in Philadelphia, in the US.

The chief prosecutor at Germany’s office investigating Nazi war crimes, Kurt Schrimm, said details on the suspect came to light during the high-profile Demjanjuk investigation.

In March this year Ukrainian-born John Demjanjuk, found guilty for his role as a Nazi guard at the Sobibor death camp, died aged 91. He had been sentenced to five years in prison by a German court in May 2011.

In answer to my question in the title of my blog post, the Demjanjuk trial set a precedent. John Demjanjuk was sent to Germany for trial; he was convicted by a German court, under the “common design” theory of guilt. This precedent now gives German courts the right to bring suspects, living in America, to trial in a German court.

There is no defense against the “common design” charge, so anyone who is put on trial in Germany under this charge will be automatically convicted.  The “common design” theory of guilt means that a suspect is guilty if it can be proved that he was there when Jews died during the Holocaust. Just being a guard in a “death camp” is enough to be proven guilty, even though the suspect had nothing to do with the deaths of the Jews.

Why even bother to send this man to Germany for trial?  Just put him in prison in America.  Unless, of course, he is too old for prison, in which case, he can be put into a nursing home in America until he dies of old age.

BTW, the estimate of 344,000 Hungarian Jews, who died at Auschwitz, is  very low.  Since the exact number is unknown, why not go with a higher estimate?  I would not go below 400,000.  Some Holocaust experts claim that over 500,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.