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December 19, 2014

The last hurrah in the prosecution of German war criminals who perpetrated the Holocaust

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:15 am
Ruins of one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Ruins of one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau

I have written about the case of German war criminal Oskar Gröning in several previous blog posts, which you can read at

According to the latest news, as reported in a British newspaper, which you can read in full here, Okkar Gröning will be put on trial in Germany in April 2015. This is likely to be “the last hurrah,” the last trial of a German SS man who committed crimes against the Jews in World War II. He will be tried under the “common plan” principle, an ex-post-facto law which makes it a crime for an SS man to have been anywhere near where Jews died in a “death camp” during the Holocaust. There is no defense against this law, so Oscar Gröning will be automatically convicted.

This quote is from the news article:

His case highlights the failure of the German judiciary adequately to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice since the end of the Second World War. An estimated 1.2 million were murdered at Auschwitz. Some 6,500 SS guards worked at the camp but only 49 have been convicted of war crimes. […]

In the decades after the Nuremberg trials, German prosecutors relied almost exclusively on evidence, largely from eyewitnesses, that linked suspects to specific murders in order to convict them. The practice explains the low conviction rate of Nazi death camp guards. It took a new generation of prosecutors to bring about the recent change in the German judiciary’s attitude to Nazi war crimes. In 2011 they set a legal precedent by securing the conviction of the former Sobibor Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk by a Munich court.

Demjanjuk was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 28,000 Dutch Jews at Sobibor, an “extermination-only” camp in Nazi occupied Poland, in which all prisoners were gassed within hours of their arrival. There were no eyewitnesses at Demjanjuk’s trial. But judges for the first time accepted the prosecution’s argument he was an accessory to mass murder simply by having worked as a guard at the camp. Prosecutors will use the same legal arguments at Gröning’s trial. However Gröning has already denied the charges.

Krema I gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp

Krema I gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp

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