Geriatric Nazi’s In Hiding

John Demjanjuk(photo AP)

Should the passage of time mitigate punishment for war crimes so heinous that they shock the conscience? The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations(OSI) continues to aggressively pursue aging Nazi War Criminals. They vow to continue until the last one hiding in the United States is caught and brought to justice. The only **constitutional brand of justice the United States can inflict is to strip these Nazi geriatrics of their citizenship and deport them to their homelands hopefully to face a much harsher justice if prosecuted and convicted of World War II war crimes. The U.S. government has won 105 cases against former Nazis. Cases are pending against 16 others.

An appeals court has ruled against accused 87 year old Nazi guard John Demjanjuk bringing him one step closer to deportation. Demjanjuk, a retired auto worker, was once wrongly convicted of being the sadistic Nazi death camp guard “Ivan the Terrible” and sentenced to death in Israel. The Israeli Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, saying another man was probably “Ivan,” a sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp where 870,000 people died. He was stripped of his U.S. citizenship again in 2002, with a judge ruled that he had worked as a guard at other death camps. He is still living free in the United States. The problem has been that no country would take him. This issue appears to be nearing closure as both Germany and Spain have now stepped up and demanded his extradition. Germany wants him for his alleged part in the torture of Jews at the Sobibor Death Camp. Spain wants him for the torture of Spaniards at Nazi concentration camps. Edward Nishnic, a spokesman for Demjanjuk’s family stated:

This is taking it to the ridiculous……. It’s another form of harassment against a very and very frail man.”

There is no doubt that there is sympathy and support for Demjanjuk. Should there be?

Josias Kumpf(photo AP)
On June 16, 2008, a U.S. appeals panel upheld an order to deport 83-year-old Josias Kumpf. Kumpf is accused of serving as a Nazi SS guard whose duty was to finish off dying Jews in a two-day mass execution in Poland that killed more than 40,000.

On June 10, 2008 retired Pennsylvania steelworker Anton Geiser 83, was ordered deported. Geiser served as an armed SS guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He later escorted prisoners to and from the Buchenwald concentration camp where tens of thousands of Jews and others were exterminated.

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune:

Geiser’s neighbors in Sharon said they were shocked by the lawsuit and will stand behind Geiser, describing him as a wonderful person. One neighbor, Diane Dach, said the government should not attempt to punish Geiser now....”

Paul Henss and wife

Last year U.S. authorities began deportation proceedings against an 85-year-old Georgia man who they say served as a Nazi guard and trained and handled attack dogs at the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps in Germany. Paul Henss is a German citizen who lives in suburban Atlanta. The Justice Department stated that he entered the U.S. in 1955 after hiding his concentration camp service.

When asked about the allegations Henss said:

That was in 1942,I didn’t know what they were doing with the people.”

Elfriede Rinkel led a quiet life in America for over 40 years with her Jewish husband, a German born Jew whose parents had died in the Holocaust. She had a dark secret. Her past included her job as a dog handler at the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbrück. She kept the secret from her late Jewish husband for forty-two years, living quietly in San Francisco. When he died the 84-year-old German woman, Elfriede Lina Rinkel, admitted that she served as a guard at the Ravensbrück concentration camp during World War II. She has since been deported back to her native Germany. When asked about her concentration camp activities Rinkel stated that she had “done nothing wrong” and had only watched prisoners so they would not “run away” She went on to state:

I am not a Nazi. My relatives are not Nazis. I did nothing wrong,

During World War II, many atrocities were committed against civilians by the Nazis and other Axis nations. These atrocities were committed as part of Hitler’s genocidal quest to rid Europe of all Jews and “inferior races”. Many of those responsible were captured and tried. Many managed to escape capture and slip undetected into countries all over the world. They hid their Nazi past when entering the United States and other countries. They managed to live quiet, peaceful lives. Many died of old age peacefully in their beds without ever having to face the brutality of their past having denied that peaceful passing to thousands.

Most scholars agree on a figure of between 1,000 and 3,000 war criminals who have found haven in the United States since the war’s end. Most have already died. Those still alive are in their eighties or older and often claim poor health as an excuse not to stand trial. You can view a list of the world’s most wanted Nazi War Criminals on the Simon Wiesenthal Center web site.

Time is running out to apprehend these geriatric fugitives. There is a general consensus that within a decade all but a few will be dead of old age or other illness. These are just the ones who may be residing in the United States. They are being hunted world wide by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. It is estimated that there are 480 suspected Nazi war criminals living in 20 countries. In the United States they often have wives, children,grandchildren and great-grandchildren who they will leave if deported. Most are suffering from multiple age related physical ailments. Should this be a consideration? Should the fact that they led quiet lives as model citizens matter? Should we now have mercy on those whose atrocities so transcended humanity that most were hanged or sentenced to long prison terms after the war. I f your father was murdered while you were a child and the murderer is caught 50 years later, does the passage of time lesson the heinous nature of what was taken from you? This and more was taken from millions of Jews, Poles, Christians, Gypsies and others by a regime so viscous that to even invoke the word “Nazi” in some forms or to deny the events took place is a crime in some countries.

Has the United States immigration bureaucracy made it a haven for geriatric Nazis wanting to live out their last days as free men? The deportation process including appeals in the United States can last years. Even when a deportation order is issued and the appeals exhausted there is often no country willing to accept these war criminals. The 8th amendment prohibits them from being incarcerated indefinitely until a country is found willing to accept them so they are set free. They should feel very fortunate. Nazis hiding in other countries are sometimes not so lucky. In 1960 Israeli agents kidnapped suspected Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and spirited him back to Israel for trial. He was tried on public television(broadcast live on ABC). He was found guilty and hanged. Some Nazis in hiding are never apprehended. Dr. Josef Mengele, “The Angel Of Death”, was one of the most wanted war criminals in history. He performed gruesome genetic experiments on the children and adult inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Despite a massive Israeli manhunt, he died a free man in 1979. He allegedly drowned while swimming.

Milivoj Asner(Interpol)
Some suspected Nazi war criminals are very lucky and enjoying life abroad. 95 year-old Milivoj Asner holds the number 4 spot on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s most wanted Nazi criminals’ list. He was recently spotted(photos) taking in the Euro 2008 soccer championship. Mr. Asner is wanted in Croatia to stand trial for deporting hundreds of Jews, gypsies and Serbs to World War II death camps. His native Austria has refused to extradite him citing his alleged failing health. The photos of him at Euro 2008 have sparked outrage in the Jewish community. They show him in apparent good health. The Asner case spotlights the criticism certain countries/nations have received for their refusal to take action with regards to Nazi war criminals living within their borders. Some of these are the United Kingdom, Australia and Sweden. You can read a report on who is doing what here.

Does the passage of time in itself provide absolution for genocidal conduct during World War II? Should a 90 year old who murdered in the concentration camps or who aided said genocide suffer any less penalty because he is 90, has children or grandchildren? Should that person be deported and tried under the same laws that resulted in the hanging and imprisonment of the Nazi’s tried at Nuremberg?

Heinrich Bore(Photo AP)
This is an international dilemma. Germany is preparing for what will probably be its last World War II war crimes trial against 86-year-old former Waffen SS death squad soldier Heinrich Bore. Bore previously been sentenced to death by a Dutch court in 1949 but has never been extradited. He is currently living in a senior citizens home. Health issues may prevent his trial in Germany from ever going forward. Should it go forward?

Who is the oldest suspected Nazi war criminal living in the United States? That dubious honor belongs to 92 year old grandfather Vladas Zajanckauskas. He is suspected of being part of a Nazi “extermination squad” and of having participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Liquidation. His orders were as follows:

“You will kill every Jewish man, women and child you can lay your hands on….”

When asked about the allegations and his possible deportation Zajanckauskas stated:

“I hope they wouldn’t deport me. Last my days….and I already bought a grave for myself in cemetery, with stone and everything. My name. My wife’s name.”

In August 2007 Mr. Zajanckauskas was ordered deported to his native Lithuania where he is also facing a war crimes investigation. It is unclear as of this writing whether he has left the United States or is even living.

Vladas Zajanckauskas(photo BBC)
Should Mr. Zajanckauskas and other Nazi geriatrics be left alone to spend their few remaining days, months or years in peace with only the torment of the outraged masses that they are still free while millions died both out of genocide and fighting to end the genocide? It is a rhetorical question to those of us of Jewish Faith. It however is not a Jewish World.

**The thought of the United States actually “prosecuting” Nazi war criminals is a misnomer. All the U.S. can constitutionally do is strip them of their citizenship and deport them. These are civil and not criminal actions.

©2008 Brian Cuban

24 Comments For This Post

  1. LewP (15 comments.) Says:

    I don't believe the passage of time excuses heinous behavior whenever it occured. These examples of settled lives of Nazis anywhere should be no reason to forgive any of them for their actions, intended or not. They were there, they participated in, and should in no way in hell be left alone for their atrocities against mankind, Jewish or otherwise.

    Murder is murder. They deserve what they dished out. Period.

    LewPs last blog post..Happy Birthday America!!!!

  2. David Appletree (6 comments.) Says:

    I agree with LewP above.

    “Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue”

    Contrary to much popular thought and culture, I don’t believe any Nazis (not even the ones who seemingly did “good things” at the time) deserve one shred of empathy nor forgiveness. They were Nazis and part of a systemic extermination of my people and I don’t care how frail they look or how old they have gotten, they should pray I never encounter them.

    “Love has its place, as does hate. Peace has its place, as does war. Mercy has its place, as do cruelty and revenge….No trait is more justified than revenge in the right time and place.”
    -Rabbi Meir Kahane Zt’l

    David Appletrees last blog post..JIDF Praises Man Who Tore Hitler’s Head Off

  3. jayme rosenthal Says:

    It is without question,not only should every last Nazi be brought to trial and sentenced to death,but their houses should be raised and their entire families be deported.
    including grand-children and great-grand-children.

  4. EatingPie (3 comments.) Says:

    I do not believe we should punish their children, or grandchildren. That would be a grave injustice — punishing someone for who their parents are — similar to punishing them for what nationality they are (Jewish, for example). Does that sound familiar?

    I felt the article painted the US as some sort of haven for these criminals due to extradition “loopholes.” But in reality, it’s these criminals’ homelands that are the issue. The US has proven their stand by putting these people on trial and setting up extradition. Homeland countries, like Germany or Austria, refusing to take these criminals.

    I think they know that when you see an ailing 80-year-old on the stand, with his grandchildren behind him, you can’t help but see a HUMAN BEING. But it’s so much easier to simply remember — and convict — these people as MONSTERS, not humans. After all, humans beings don’t commit these types of atrocities… do they?

    -Pie

  5. Chris Says:

    This is ridiculous. I'm not saying that what the Nazis did is anyway right, but I don't see why we are still looking for them. From the article, it seems that most of them were just guards and there is no proof that they murdered anyone. Just because they were a part of the Nazi army doesn't mean they did anything wrong. At the time, they were patriots defending their country (which was in horrible shape after the Allies demanded reparations, etc). If you are going to deport them by association, they why not deport all the Jews because they killed Jesus.

  6. BlogoBlackmore (1 comments.) Says:

    What they did was absolutely heinous, there is no denying that, but isn’t continuing to chase these lower level Nazi’s starting to become a waste of time? The war is over, we won and the Nazi’s have been defeated. The vast majority of the leaders were killed or brought to justice already. The remaining few were typically lower to mid level grunts who bare less responsibility than those who were in charge. They are also so old they’ve got one foot in the grave already. Also, don’t forget, there wasn’t much choice to being a Nazi at the time, you were either with them or against them. There was a systematic indoctrination of those involved, which should also be taken into consideration.

    last point: doesn’t continuing to seek revenge give the Nazi’s, and anti semitics in general, more power? You can’t truly heal until you’ve put the wrongs against you in the past.

  7. David Appletree (6 comments.) Says:

    Chris said, “I don’t see why we are still looking for them [nazis]….Just because they were a part of the Nazi army doesn’t mean they did anything wrong. At the time, they were patriots defending their country…If you are going to deport them by association, they why not deport all the Jews because they killed Jesus.”

    wow. sad to see such ignorance, nazi sympathizing and Jewish scapegoating all wrapped up in jesus’ name. sweet jesus.

    i didn’t kill him. in fact, the Jewish people didn’t kill Jesus, either. Perhaps we should go after all Christians since so many have killed in his name…. many of whom use the “Jews killed Jesus” as their rationale.

  8. Jim Webber Says:

    I don’t think that a prison guard should be considered a war criminal. The Jews should just let go of the Holocaust and get on with the real task of bringing peace in the Middle East by removing all settlements from the West Bank. If the state of Israel were not terrorizing the Arabs with their ridiculous claims about ownership of the area based on narrow translations of silly books written 3,000 years ago, the world would be a better place.

  9. Donnie Says:

    These people need to be brought to justice for their crimes against humanity. Excusing them now is a cop out. I do not care that they are old, just like they didn’t care for innocent children, and other Jews when they were killing them.

  10. Bill Wyatt Says:

    I agree these people should be brought to justice, but what about all the rest that we gave jobs, fame and fortune too? Warner Von Braun, Deceased head of NASA. This man and his team built the v1 and v2 rockets launched at England during the war! Kurt Debus, former head of Kennedy Space Center, again a nazi scientist, General Walter Dornberger, former head of research at Bell Aerospace, General Reinhardt Gehlen, CIA, former nazi with his entire staff, most of Europes post war CIA operatives where former nazi officers. We pardoned, protectedand paid thousands of war criminals that were officers and KNEW what was going on. That doesn’t excuse the guards, but if we are seeking justice then the ones that gave the orders should be at the top of the list!

  11. Mel Says:

    I do believe these people are serious war criminals, because they ARE criminals, and should be punished. Forget all the b.s. They knew what they were doing. Everyone knew what they were doing. It was by far not a secret. They are now laughing in the face of world, knowing that they got a way with murder. Funny, these criminals murdered many innocent people, inlcuding elderly people their very age today. Doesn't look like they took too much sympathy for the older Jewish generation in their Nazi days.
    Also, Chris, you are right, patriots do in fact love and support their country. However, how can you compare a Nazi to a patriot? When a Nazi is a a harshly domineering extremist. You do the math. About the Jews killing Jesus. I agree with David, 'pretty sad rational'. If you were really curious, you'd check out what the 2nd Vatican Council has to say about that.
    Thank you Brian Cuban for your intersting article. I have hopes that your work will open many eyes.

  12. Mel Says:

    Ok, let's get straight to the point, hmm Chris and Jim. First, to say to Jews, 'just forget.' Just forget what? The fact that millions of innocent people, our families, were cruelly put to death for nothing more than there religious beliefs? Forget what has happened to us in the past? To forget who we are and where we come from? The whole reason people talk about it is simply because we don't want to forget. May it never happen again to anybody, be it the Jewish people or any minority, color, creed, sexuality, or religious belief. We have moved so far as human beings. The thought of just forgetting seems so easy, but its remembering that is the key to the future.

  13. Douglas Yoole Says:

    Steady up there sunshine;destroying homes and slaughtering families might be the norm in the illegally occupied Palestinian Territories,but out here in the world we sorta kinda respect our nieghbors a bit more than that.Harmless old men that committed crimes in ww2 should be named and shamed(if a case against them is proven),but leave it at that.My Father in law fought with the Nazis…..should I murder the old bloke,and my wife?

  14. witchhunt (3 comments.) Says:

    I guess God or his "people" have no room for forgiveness or redemption..once you make a mistake in this life you pay for all eternity?..The past is done, if we pursued all of the people who committed crimes against humanity, perhaps we should bring God's people to justice for all of the murders of woman and children we read of in the Torah?..hmmmm..no crime in proposing a few questions is there? just think..don't follow a mob mentality none of down here are truly innnocent.

  15. BJ HAROLD Says:

    THE PASSING OF TIME WILL NOT DIMINISH THE GUILT OF THE NAZIS. SUCH WERE THEIR ATROCITIES AGAINST HUMANITY. WE ALL KNOW THAT THE JEWS WERE TORTURED MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY AND THEN MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD. ON THE OTHER SIDE WE COULD SEE THE ‘INDISCIPLINED AND IMMORABL NAZIS’ LIVING LIKE GANSTERS – DRINKING, WOMANISING AND MERRY MAKING. JUST IMAGINE A WORLD UNDER THE CONTROL OF THESE ‘INDISCIPLINED AND IMMORAL NAZI GANGSTERS’. NOT A SINGLE NAZI SHOULD BE PARDONED. THE ALLIES FOUGHT TO THE LAST BLOOD AND SAVED THE WHOLE WORLD. JUST IMAGINE THE FATE OF THE WORLD IF THESE ‘INDISCIPLINED AND IMMORAL NAZI THUGS’ HAD WON THE 2ND WORLD WAR. THEY SHOULD BE SIMPLY HANGED. WHY SHOULD THEY BE TRIED BEFORE A COURT ? DID THEY TRY ANYBODY BEFORE A COURT WHEN THEY MURDERED MILLIONS OF JEWS ? NOT AN IOTA OF SYMPATHY SHOULD BE SHOWN TOWARDS THESE ‘INDISCIPLINED AND IMMORAL NAZI THUGS’. THE WHOLE WORLD SUFFERED SO MUCH JUST BECAUSE OF THESE ‘INDISCIPLINED GANGSTERS’ WHO EVEN WENT TO THE EXTENT OF EXTRACTING THE GOLD TEETH OF THE DEAD JEWS. IF WE PARDON THEM THEN CRIES OF MILLIONS OF JEWS WILL NOT PARDON US.

  16. witchhunt (3 comments.) Says:

    Let's not forget the crimes committed by the Jewish(Ehrenberg for telling the Russian soldiers to rape and kill German citizens) the Poles, the Czechs, the British and the united states for firebombing Dresden and other German civilian centers oh and how about unleashing nuclear Holocaust on two Japanese. Seems like someone violated the Geneva convention with that one. The winner writes the history. Look up nimmersdorf or the Germans expelled from the Sudetenland for a long list of rape mutilation and torture of German citizens, men woman and children, then tell me when that's ever justified. Don't get me started on what has happened to the Palestinian people since the Jews moved to Palestine. Nobody got out of WW2 without innocent Blood on their hands.

  17. witchhunt (3 comments.) Says:

    Let's not forget the crimes committed by the Jewish(Ehrenberg for telling the Russian soldiers to rape and kill German citizens) the Poles, the Czechs, the British and the united states for firebombing Dresden and other German civilian centers oh and how about unleashing nuclear Holocaust on two Japanese. Seems like someone violated the Geneva convention with that one. The winner writes the history. Look up nimmersdorf or the Germans expelled from the Sudetenland for a long list of rape mutilation and torture of German citizens, men woman and children, then tell me when that's ever justified. Don't get me started on what has happened to the Palestinian people since the Jews moved to Palestine. Nobody got out of WW2 without innocent Blood on their hands.

  18. jayme Says:

    Chris , well i wish for you what you wish for others. let it happen to someone in your family, like maybe your mother for instance. I would be shocked if your ignorant disposition made a 180

  19. echo Says:

    All have sinned and come short of the glory of G_d. Your understanding and acceptance of scripture will determine your view point. I tremble at the thought of men trying to do the job of G_d. Doing this shows you have reject G_d and accepted the spirit of the unholy one. All will one day stand before the judgement bar of G_d and will be rewarded according to their life's works. There will be no exception, what is done in life will be rewarded accordingly. Chose wisely what you do and believe during your short time here on Earth.

  20. Al b Says:

    Ordinarily I would say keep hunting until there are none left. The issue is that I know one of these men personally and he is a good kind family man who never caused an ounce of trouble while on the usa. War is hell and facts are murky. Punishing these people opens up the possibility that we will commit grave injustice. Its a tough call.

  21. Michael Says:

    To Al B: You're probably not Jewish, if you were, he would hate you and wish you dead.

  22. guest Says:

    There is no comparison. Jesus very possibly didn't even exist. Look at the stories of Horus, Mithra and Krishna. The story of Horus in the Egyptian Religion is basically the same as the story of "Jesus". So your reasoning is just frankly idiotic. You are condemning a group of people which had a genocidal act committed on them because you believe some story you read in an ancient book about a person who very likely didn't exist. I am not Jewish, but I find your comment offensive.

    We know what these men did. I just saw a program called "Elusive Justice" and some of these men were in it. Vladas Zajan?kauskas is one of them, while I felt sorry for him a little bit, he also made the decision to work for the German Army. If you read the article, evidence exists that links these people to war crimes. The United States isn't deporting every single person that fought in the German army.

    Don't let facts get in the way of making a stupid comment though.

  23. steve Says:

    Unfortunately, it is happening again right now and not just in one place. The methods are different but genocide is occurring. I agree with your post though, I am not Jewish, but I am an Irish American and the Irish people suffered from their own holocaust.

    I am not trying to demean or lesson what happened to the Jewish people in anyway, I just want to be clear.

  24. Livee Says:

    Forgivness and accountability have little to do with each other. Time is not forgiveness. Laws are laws are for reasons. These laws respect innocent people who have suffered greatly. Sending them back to the country they fought for is not disrespectful to them, it's sending them home to what they supported while people died. Sometimes we just need to stand up for what is right. Sending them home is nothing compared to what the Jews went through. They are getting off scott-free…

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