Tag Archive | "world war II"

Demjanjuk Charged As Accessory To 27,900 Murders

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Demjanjuk Charged As Accessory To 27,900 Murders


German prosecutors have formally charged John Demjanjuk on with 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder at a Nazi death camp during World War II.

German doctors had previously determined that Demjanjuk is fit to stand trial on charges that he was an accessory to murder at Sobibor, a Nazi death camp.  Doctors state that the 89-year-old retired auto worker, recently deported from the United States, can stand trial so long as his time in court does not exceed two 90-minute sessions daily.

The charges still must be accepted by the court but this is generally considered a formality. Prosecutors and Demjanjuk’s defense attorney, said the trial could begin by autumn.

A key witness against Demjanjuk recently  stepped forward dealing a devastating blow to his claims of mistaken identity. Alexander Nagorny, a former concentration camp guard will testify that he not only worked with Demjanjuk in a camp but lived with him for a period of time.holocaust2-783481-300x250

Nagorny will be a key witness against the 89-year-old Demjanjuk.  He will testify that he worked with Demjanjuk at a concentration camp in Flossenburg, Germany, and lived with him after the war in Landshut, a Bavarian city near Munich.  While he does not put Demjanjuk at Sobibor, if believed it is a severe blow to Demjanjuk’s case as he has steadfastly claimed he is the victim of mistaken identity and was never a concentration camp guard.  The fact that Nagorny lived with Demjanjuk makes his testimony uniquely powerful and unlike others in similar trials who claimed that they served with or only saw a particular guard in a camp. This type of testimony  could often be discredited based on the combination of brief interactions, mistaken identity and passage of time.  His testimony is also crucial because if believed it ties Demjanjuk to a specific concentration camp guard I.D number. That same number places Demjanjuk at Sobibor, the camp in which he is accused of committing war crimes.

Like Demjanjuk, Nagorny is old and very ill.  If his health renders him unavailable to testify at trial, his testimony at a preliminary hearing will be admissible.

Get ready for what should be the most publicized Nazi War Crimes trial since Adolf Eichmann and what should be the last chance to relive history before it is relegated to the history books.

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The Holocaust Goes Hollywood

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The Holocaust Goes Hollywood


2008-2009 has seen the return of the Holocaust in Hollywood with several movies either dealing with the subject directly or tangentially. The Holocaust has always been sporadic material for Hollywood. Every few years a small budget independent or documentary will show up, but mainstream Hollywood rarely invests in a Holocaust masterpiece.  If a big budget film about the Holocaust manages to become a reality, the result is generally an accurate account of genocide delivered in epic dimensions.  The Holocaust is such a sacred, emotional and controversial subject that it would be Hollywood suicide to make a historically inaccurate or irresponsible film.   A film that varies from the basic facts of actual events risks being considered revisionist which would be a disaster for a mainstream film as well as the people behind it.

Hollywood is acutely aware that a Holocaust film, to be accepted on any level, must always stay faithful to basic accepted concepts and historical outlines regarding a specific event or specific issue within that event.  It is acceptable to create fictional people and places and subplots around a particular event but to alter a Holocaust event even slightly is very risky and frankly taboo.  The Holocaust is such a sacred and risky subject for film makers that while many Holocaust films are done very few are released in wide distribution or considered mainstream.  Most are, in fact, documentaries.  A formidable documentary on the subject is Imaginary Witness:Hollywood and the Holocaust.  It had very limited release and is unfortunately very difficult to locate.   If you want to see it you are going to have to get lucky on Ebay.imaginarywitness

There is no denying that sentiments and views of the Holocaust have changed over the years since the end of World War II.  Hollywood has changed right along with those sentiments and views and changed the types of movies and the way events are depicted. A review of the Internet Movie Database reveals that from 1945-2008 reveals that there were over 400 theatrical productions and documentaries made which addressed the Holocaust in one form or another. Of those, the majority were foreign-made documentaries. One explanation for this is that Europe as a whole was much more willing to face and deal with the horror of what happened than the United States as a whole. This would make sense just in terms of the sheer numbers of Holocaust survivors in Europe and Israel as compared to the United States starting from the end of the war. The vast majority lived, and still live, in places other than the United States. The numbers would obviously balance out over time to some degree based on shifting demographics and the extremely high mortality rates of aging survivors.

If you look at the types of movies that were made, there is no escaping that up through the 1980’s the Hollywood treatment of the Holocaust was very shallow and dismissive not counting documentaries.  Here is my list of Hollywood movies and television media that I feel offer the most to the viewer in the portrayal of events and figures of the Holocaust.   I include foreign films if they had mainstream United States release.   I am only including films whose main focus was the Holocaust as compared to the holocaust being just one historical event in the movie.  An example would be Band Of Brothers. This mini-series addresses the Holocaust but is not about the Holocaust.  Another recent two films I left off because I did not consider them  Holocaust films are Defiance(2008) and Good(2008).  I will start with the most recent entries into the Holocaust genre, “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas”  and “The Reader”.pajamas

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas.  Adapted from the book of the same name by John Boyne.  A heart ripping movie along the same lines as Life Is Beautiful.  This time told from the side of the child of a Concentration Camp Commandant who befriends a Jewish child imprisoned in the camp. The child has been shielded by his father from the horror, brutality and the truth of the purpose of the camp.  I consider this one of the best if not the best film of 2008.  A must see.

The Reader(2009).   Ralph Fiennes harkens back to his brilliant performance as the brutal Plasow Concentration Camp Commandant Amon Goeth in Schindler’s list to once again tackle the Holocaust in a much different light.   His character has an affair with his care-taker and  Eight years later, while a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is re-united in a shocking way. She is a defendant charged with war crimes.

Paperclips(2004) An extraordinary documentary that I stumbled across surfing cables channels once night.  Whitwell Middlepaperclips School in rural Tennessee is the last place that you would think would be a hot bed of Holocaust study.  It however is the setting for this documentary about a unique experiment in Holocaust understanding. The students at Whitewell collect six-million paper clips to better understand the extent of Holocaust and share that understanding with Holocaust survivors.

The Diary Of Anne Frank(1959). The 1959 version appears to be Hollywood’s first mainstream attempt to bring the Holocaust to the masses although it did so by sacrificing the depth and emotion of the Holocaust to give the public a Hollywood anne_frank_imageblockbuster movie. The movie itself was a Hollywood hit by the standards of the day. It won three Oscars. An interesting side note is that Audrey Hepburn turned down the role of Anne Frank because she herself lived in occupied Holland and witnessed Nazi atrocities first-hand. To get a feel for early Hollywood treatment of the Holocaust, the Diary of Anne Frank is a must see, but be sure to view the original before viewing the remakes.

Holocaust(1978).  A four-part made-for-TV mini-series. That was the first major network big time portrayal of the subject. The series was a monstrous success, drawing a 49 percent market share. So many people watched this mini-series in New York City when first broadcast, that when commercials were on, the local water pressure dropped due to the large number of people using their toilets at once. It won Golden Globe and Emmy awards. It was very instrumental in rocketing the career of Meryl Streep. Michael Moriarty is brilliant as an out of work lawyer who enters the Nazi party and advances through brutality and helping implement “The Final Solution”. Interestingly the series was only as of May 2008 available on DVD in the United States. It had previously only been released in Europe. I am not sure if that was an economic issue, a rights issue, or once again an example of a much more apathetic view of the subject in the United States.

Schindler’s List(1993). The Holocaust comes to Generation X with the Steven Spielberg story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist and Nazi party member who started out getting rich off the backs of Jewish slave labor and ended up finding his own humanity. He went on to save thousands of Jews from the gas chamber, risking both his personal wealth and his safety to save as many Jews as possible. He spent his entire fortune to bribe Germans and basically “buy” the Jews who worked for him. He kept them for the most part safe until Germany’s surrender. He ended up penniless. Today, there are more than 6000 descendants of “Schindler Jews” living around the world.   The movie is done in and black and white and riveting from beginning to end. When I saw this movie, I could hear sobbing all over the theater. Ralph Fiennes is absolutely brilliant as Amon Goeth, the brutal commandant of the Plazow forced labor camp. I view this movie as the first mainstream attempt to bring the true graphic brutality of the Holocaust to our doorsteps. This is the Holocaust movie of our generation. If you asked 100 people under 40 what movie they last saw about the Holocaust, I would be shocked if the majority did not say Schindler’s List. The movie itself was a huge critical and box office success winning seven Oscars

Sophie’s Choice(1982). Sophie’s Choice is a brilliant performance by Meryl Streep as a Holocaust survivor with dark secrets in her family’s past. Her performance as Sophie Zawistowska is ranked #3 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. She won an academy award for her performance. It should be noted that this film was released 11 years prior to Schindler’s list. It contains one of the most heart wrenching moments in movie history when Sophie recounts the night she arrived at Auschwitz with her children, and of how she was forced by a Nazi officer to choose life for one child and death for the other.

Life Is Beautiful(1997). Life is Beautiful is a Holocaust film told like no other. Instead of focusing on the tragedy, brutality and death of the Holocaust, it is told from the view of a man who uses the gift of humor to protect his only son from the inhumanity while in a concentration camp. The film is incredible in that it allows you to smile and laugh with Guido right up until the tragic end and not feel sad. It sends the strong message that our ability to laugh and make others laugh is ours alone, no matter what forces pull at us. This movie won three Academy Awards. While classified as a Holocaust film, this film is also a joyous celebration of the human spirit. I almost did not see this film, but I have now seen it a total of four times.

The Pianist(2002). This movie is told from the viewpoint of a very talented piano player hiding out in the Warsaw Ghetto throughout the Warsaw Ghetto Liquidation and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Adrian Brody does a brooding, self-absorbed pianist. When the German occupation begins, he simply wonders when he will be able to return to his music. When the killing begins, he is forced to hide and change his priorities to simply trying to survive. Even though he can no longer play, music is the hope and salvation that keeps him alive.

The Grey Zone(2001). The Grey Zone is gritty, dark and sometimes hard to follow. It is, however, a must-see for all those who want an understanding of the Holocaust beyond the basics. The Grey Zone deals with an issue that is very sensitive to Holocaust survivors–Jews sending other Jews to the gas chamber. These Jews were called “Sonderkommandos”.  Sonderkommando members did not participate directly in the killing, which was reserved for the guards. While their primary responsibility was disposing of the corpses, they often took a much more active role in getting the inmates ready to enter the gas chambers. These inmates were kept in close groups and had much better living conditions than the average inmate, but they were also killed off at regular intervals to prevent any word of the inner workings of the Nazi death apparatus from leaking to the outside world. This movie is about one of several Sonderkommado revolts that took place. The movie features an outstanding peformance by Harvey Keitel.thegreyzone

Playing for Time.    Playing for Time is a made-for-T.V piece that is worth seeing. Another movie that gives a perspective on the inner workings of Nazi Concentration Camps in which some inmates were forced to play music for the others as they marched to the gas chambers or life-death selection process. The purpose was to keep them calm and reduce the chances of revolt. You can read an excellent article on the subject here.

Europa Europa(1991). A young Jewish boy poses as a German “aryan” orphan and joins the Hilter Youth in the early days of World War II. An interesting look at the racial, moral and religious identity struggles faced by Jews as they did what they could to prevent their extermination in Nazi Germany. Based on a true story.

musicboxMusic Box(1989). This is one of the few movies dealing with the issues of aging former Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who committed war crimes living in the United States.  Jessica Lange and Armin Mueller-Stah give great performances. The movie is based on the true story of John Demjanjuk.   While the premise of a daughter representing her father on trial with such high stakes is a stretch, it works well here.  Jessica’s emotional opening statement is also unrealistic and inadmissible. The movie is incredibly moving on all levels. You are torn between her father as a loving grandfather and a brutal murderer guilty of terrible war crimes. In an interesting twist of life imitating art, the father of Joe Eszterhas who wrote the screenplay, was accused of writing anti-Semitic propaganda before and during World War II. Like the character in Music Box, his father denied being the person who wrote these materials. Mr. Ezterhas denies knowing anything about his father’s past at the time he wrote the screenplay. There is a great article about this that can be read here.

That is my list of Holocaust films that I feel are must sees for anyone wanting to get a good understanding of the subject through Hollywood. Is this a definitive list? Absolutely not. There are numerous foreign films and documentaries dealing with general and specific issues surrounding the Holocaust. There are also some Hollywood selections I left out such as Uprising. Uprising specifically addresses the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. While it is an entertaining mini-series, I felt it the portrayal was a step backwards in that it was too much in the line of the 1978 mini-series Holocaust. It could have been done much more effectively. I feel the above selections are a good starting point for all.

Please feel free to comment and add you own movies to the list with an explanation of why you feel it is an important film or simply why you enjoyed it.

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The Hitler Pact: A Blood Oath

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The Hitler Pact: A Blood Oath

Brothers Alexander Adolf, Louis, and Brian William live in a quiet working- class suburb on Long Island.  They are all native New Yorkers.  None have ever married or had children.  Two of them have their own landscaping business.   One is a social worker. Their brother, Howard,  died in an auto accident.  It has been reported that these brothers have lived a sad life by most standards. Living in seclusion, loneliness and fear.  An existence with no vision or concept of what the American dream could or should mean to them.  The dream of marriage, family children, grandchildren.  The hopes and dreams many aspire to.  The hope that our children will have better lives than we had.  The hope  that our name and bloodline will be carried well into the future long after we are dust.  Hopes these men have apparently denied themselves with purpose and resolve.

The Hitler Newphews

These only American descendants of Adolf Hitler are living quietly on Long Island under assumed names.  When they are gone, the bloodline of Adolph Hitler in the United States, will be severed for all time.  The brothers have reportedly entered into a pact that none will marry or have children.

How did relatives of  Hitler end up living a middle class life in Long Island, New York?

William Patrick Hitler was born in Liverpool in 1911. He was the son of William Patrick Hitler

Adolph Hitler’s half-brother Alois.  William moved to Berlin in the 1930’s.  He attempted to capitalize on the notoriety of the Hitler name using various ploys and his resemblance to Hitler to make money. It is reported that Hitler himself regarded William as a freeloader and buffoon calling him one of his “most repulsive” relatives.  Just prior to the German invasion of Poland, William took his show on the road to the United States.

Much as modern day celebrities, he charged per appearance to regale the not yet “Hitler sensitized” American audiences with life “inside the Nazi Reich”.  As America was drawn into the war and Americans became aware of the brutal nature of the Hitler regime, the glamor and appeal of profiting off the Hitler name undoubtedly waned. It quickly turned to fear of reprisal and ridicule. He later attempted to enlist in the military and was rejected.  Not happy with this he wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  As one can imagine a letter from a blood relative to the man considered “evil incarnate” caused quite a stir. The letter triggered an investigation by the FBI.  He was eventually allowed to enlist in the United States Navy.

After the war, William Patrick made his way to New York City and then Long Island, NY.  He married, had children. He lived the rest of his life there.  William Patrick Hitler passed away in 1987.  In addition to the material things  he handed down to his children he passed down his infamous name.  A name so tainted, his children allegedly thought the only way to cure it was to deny themselves all that we love and cherish by entering into the Hitler Pact to end the blood-line forever.

While there certainly is curiosity value to the existence of the Hitler blood descendants in the United States, there are fascinating questions in both psychology and science.

What internal and external psychological forces drive three brothers to voluntarily choose to suppress those basic biological drives that we all possess and strive to fulfill? How has this denial of these basic instincts affected their psychological health?

What can genetic testing of these brother tell us? Are the brothers carrying any genetic markers that would offer some explanation for Hitler’s psychopathic behavior?

Can genetic testing tell us whether Hitler had any Jewish lineage? One of the most historically fascinating remaining question about Hitler unresolved to this day is whether Adolph Hitler had any Jewish ancestors or as he would put it “Jewish blood”. It is a popular wives tail that Adolph Hitler was part Jewish but this has never been confirmed. If DNA testing on Hitler blood relatives can not tell us, it will probably remain a mystery for all time. It has been reported that Hitler himself was obsessed with this possibility. Hitler tried his best to hide his origins. According to Dr. Fritz Redlich in his book, Diagnosis of A Destructive Prophet, Hitler feared that his paternal grandfather was Jewish. As noted in the book, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, there are few publications that examine this issue and none have verified sources. Pages 172-175 of the book contain a fascinating discussion of the various arguments on both sides of the coin.

In order to get a more complete perspective on the DNA issue I consulted author and historian Dr. Bryan Mark Rigg Ph.D. He is the author of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers and Rescued From The Reich. Here is what he had to say:

“If the DNA shows anything, it will show how interconnected we all are. It could possibly answer the question of his possible Jewish background. While a gene study might give us some insight into his psychopathic behavior, it was probably more of a product of his abusive upbringing. Regardless of his background, he was an angry, evil man. In the end, it would help us all realize that we need to learn how to embrace the good in us and fight the evil regardless of our genetics. In the end you do not need proof of Hitler’s genetics to learn this truth about humanity.”

Will Alexander Adolf, Louis, or Brian William ever tell us what their hopes and dreams have been and what they are now?  Will they tell us whether they entered into a pact never to marry or have children?  Was it to spare their spouses and children the ridicule and loneliness they must have suffered.?  Could it be much simpler in that they foresaw certain rejection from any women who discovered their secret and were sparing themselves the pain. Did they fear the uncertainly of the “Hitler genetics”?  While this “societal sterilization” was self-imposed, it was also pushed on them by the thread of intolerance that often dooms generations upon generations to pay for the sins of their parents. These three healthy boys who were born with no future as if they had an incurable disease that will be genetically passed down for all time, the only solution was apparently to stop the bleeding by ceasing to exist. The Hitler Nephews are reportedly writing their own book about their experiences. Can they offer more than science? In the meantime the heart of humanity beats on


Brian Cuban is a an author whose  best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction.  Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.


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Geriatric Nazi’s In Hiding

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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

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