Quantcast
Connect with us

Most post-WWII German justice officials were ex-Nazis: study

Published

on

Germany’s post-World War II justice ministry was infested with ex-Nazis hellbent on protecting their former comrades, according to a new official study released Monday.

Fully 77 percent of senior ministry officials in 1957 were former members of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, a higher proportion even than during the 1933-45 Third Reich, the study found.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We didn’t expect the figure to be this high,” said study co-author Christoph Safferling, who evaluated former ministry personnel files, speaking to the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The fascist old-boys network closed ranks, enabling its members to shield each other from justice, the study found — helping to explain why so few Nazi war criminals ever went to prison.

– ‘No regret’ –

“The Nazi-era lawyers went on to cover up old injustice rather than to uncover it and thereby created new injustice,” said Heiko Maas, Germany’s justice minister, who presented the report Monday.

Though the report only deals with ministry bureaucrats, it roughly matches figures for the wider justice apparatus.

Historians have previously found that in the 1950s, more than 70 percent of West Germany’s top judges also had former Nazi connections.

ADVERTISEMENT

Safferling said that “at a time when a fierce struggle was under way about punishing Nazi crimes, the old comrades were reluctant to come under the scrutiny of young, unencumbered outsiders”.

While other government ministries were able to look to Germany’s future, said Safferling, “justice always deals with the past”.

Those officials questioned about their roles in the Holocaust machinery usually claimed ignorance, said they had only followed orders, or argued that by staying in their posts they had prevented even worse crimes.

ADVERTISEMENT

“You never find words of regret, only justifications,” said Safferling.

The ministry largely failed to employ jurists who had been in exile during the war or had joined the anti-Nazi resistance, the Rosenburg project — named after the first ministry building in the former West German capital Bonn — found.

ADVERTISEMENT

– Collective amnesia –

Between 1949 and the early 1970s, 90 of the 170 top ministry officials were former Nazi party members, and many had served as Holocaust-era judges who had handed down death sentences, said former justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who initiated the study in 2012.

The report casts new light on the early post-war era’s collective amnesia about Nazi crimes in then West Germany.

Germans were then focused on rebuilding a country in ruins, and many remained in denial about past crimes, dismissing the 1945-49 Nuremberg trials as “victor’s justice”.

ADVERTISEMENT

The western allies occupying the country — the United States, Britain and France — were focussed on what they saw as the new Cold War threat of Soviet Russia, which controlled communist East Germany.

As a result of these and other factors, allied and later West German courts only convicted around 6,650 ex-Nazis, a tiny fraction of the party membership.

Few of these served long jail terms because judges required a high burden of proof, including evidence a defendant had acted on their own initiative or with unusual cruelty. Most suspects were regarded as accomplices and thus received lighter sentences.

A fundamental change only came after most war criminals were dead, with the case of Ukrainian-American John Demjanjuk, a former death camp guard who had become an auto plant worker in Ohio.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2011 a German court convicted him not for crimes he could be linked to personally, but on the basis that he had served as a cog in the vast Nazi killing machine, at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

A number of trials have followed the landmark ruling, of men aged in their 90s, including the 2015 conviction of Oskar Groening, dubbed the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”.

While some have hailed such trials as finally bringing to justice the last perpetrators of the Holocaust, others have decried them as too little, too late.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s health officials privately grumbling about his obsession with unproven anti-malaria drug for COVID-19: report

Published

on

On Monday, Politico reported that some health officials in the Trump administration are privately "unsettled" by the president's ongoing fascination with hydroxychloroquine, the drug primarily used to treat malaria, lupus, and arthritis that is now being suggested as a treatment for the novel coronavirus.

The president has repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine as a possible miracle cure, and has even suggested he might start taking it himself, even though his tests for COVID-19 have been reported as negative and even though there's a lack of data that it is safe or effective for that purpose.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Wisconsin GOP slammed for making people choose between their health and their vote

Published

on

After Republicans nationally and in Wisconsin successfully sued in both state and federal court to block voters from being given extra time and options to cast votes in the middle of a pandemic, commenters on social media reacted with fury.

What just happened re: Wisconsin can seem a bit confusing. The TL;DR: The Supreme Court decided that Republicans winning elections is more important than keeping voters healthy & alive.

Continue Reading
 

COVID-19

ESPN reports the NBA is looking to rapid COVID-19 tests to resume professional basketball

Published

on

The NBA and the union representing players are working together on a possible solution to re-open professional basketball in America, ESPN reported Monday.

"In recent weeks, officials within the NBA and NBPA have been collaborating in assessing the viability of multiple blood-testing devices for the novel coronavirus that could provide accurate results within a matter of minutes, a process that would hopefully enable the league to track the virus in what's considered a critical first step toward resuming play in the near future," ESPN senior writer Baxter Holmes reported.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image