Deportation of an 89 year old nazi

  • News
  • Thread starter waht
  • Start date
  • #1
1,497
4
Why is it that a nazi soldier following orders gets punished? He was following orders, if he didn't then he would be likely killed. So is this really a no win-win situation, for him and many nazis that were sentenced in the past?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090415/ap_on_re_us/demjanjuk [Broken]

CLEVELAND – John Demjanjuk was released from federal custody Tuesday evening, just hours after six immigration officers removed the accused Nazi death camp guard from his suburban home in a wheelchair, authorities said. Federal officials had taken Demjanjuk to a federal building in downtown Cleveland, but the 89-year-old retired autoworker's impending return to Germany was halted when three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of deportation.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
russ_watters
Mentor
21,526
8,574
Yes, it is a no win situation, but he gets punished for the same reason any murderer gets punished: he's a murderer.

You are, btw, assuming he was a normal person, forced to do it as opposed to being an ideologue who believed in the Nazi cause. But even if you are right, millions of normal Germans allowed those atrocities to happen when collectively they could have stopped them.

I can only hope if I was in that situation, that I would have the courage to point my gun at my superior officer instead of at the captives.
 
  • #3
412
4
Makes sense. He's a war criminal and being old doesn't make him an exception.

And, there are no Nazis to protect him .. :rolleyes:
 
Last edited:
  • #4
1,497
4
By the definition of war crimes by the Geneva convection he is a war criminal

Also included is denial to a fair trial, and torture. So by logical deduction American soldiers stationed in Guantanamo are war criminals as well.
 
  • #5
3,042
16
By the definition of war crimes by the Geneva convection he is a war criminal

Also included is denial to a fair trial, and torture. So by logical deduction American soldiers stationed in Guantanamo are war criminals as well.

My understanding is that the Geneva convention applies between two countries. That's why there is a legal debate as to its application against non nation-state aggressors.
 
  • #6
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,840
1,002
Why is it that a nazi soldier following orders gets punished? He was following orders, if he didn't then he would be likely killed. So is this really a no win-win situation, for him and many nazis that were sentenced in the past?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090415/ap_on_re_us/demjanjuk [Broken]

There was a choice - fight for the other side.

This should serve as a reminder that there is no justification for war crimes. Even sixty+ years after the fact, the world will still be watching.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #7
412
4
By the definition of war crimes by the Geneva convection he is a war criminal

Also included is denial to a fair trial, and torture. So by logical deduction American soldiers stationed in Guantanamo are war criminals as well.

I am not sure but I think war crimes law only apply to nations that are weak. At least, there's some justice - better than nothing at all :).
 
  • #8
1,497
4
There was a choice - fight for the other side.

This should serve as a reminder that there is no justification for war crimes. Even sixty+ years after the fact, the world will still be watching.

I believe there was no other side at that time. Nazis were running concentration camps years before Normady. Plus Nazis invented propaganda, and people succumbed to group think. German military was hardcore, so your job as a soldier is to obey orders without question. Mafia kind of psychology.

I'm not trying to defend this guy, what he did was wrong.
 
  • #9
3,042
16
I am not sure but I think war crimes law only apply to nations that are weak. At least, there's some justice - better than nothing at all :).

That's obviously false.
 
  • #10
3,042
16
I believe there was no other side at that time. Nazis were running concentration camps years before Normady. Plus Nazis invented propaganda, and people succumbed to group think. German military was hardcore, so your job as a soldier is to obey orders without question. Mafia kind of psychology.

I'm not trying to defend this guy, what he did was wrong.

That's rather convenient for them, isn't it?
 
  • #11
1,497
4
I am not sure but I think war crimes law only apply to nations that are weak. At least, there's some justice - better than nothing at all :).

good point.
 
  • #12
1,497
4
That's rather convenient for them, isn't it?

it's what brought them down too
 
  • #13
1,497
4
I don't understand the point you are making with your comment. Yes, they were 17 and 19. So what? They were old enough to know better than to take a ship hostage.

I removed the point about pirates. Thought you meant "propaganda" was convenient for the nazi
 
  • #14
3,042
16
I removed the point about pirates. Thought you meant "propaganda" was convenient for the nazi

Oh, sorry. I meant the somalis. I will delete my post then.
 
  • #15
85
166
I believe there was no other side at that time. Nazis were running concentration camps years before Normady. Plus Nazis invented propaganda, and people succumbed to group think. German military was hardcore, so your job as a soldier is to obey orders without question. Mafia kind of psychology.

I'm not trying to defend this guy, what he did was wrong.

The Nazi's didn't invent propaganda. It has been around since recorded history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda#Ancient_propaganda

Fox news has the latest version.:devil:

All of our German rocket scientists up until the lunar landings were former Nazi's. In Germmany they had used slave labor to produce weapons that killed people.
 
  • #16
russ_watters
Mentor
21,526
8,574
By the definition of war crimes by the Geneva convection he is a war criminal

Also included is denial to a fair trial, and torture. So by logical deduction American soldiers stationed in Guantanamo are war criminals as well.
I don't see what this has to do with your previous post, but in any case, if the international community agrees with you, they are free to attempt to prosecute the supposed crimes.
I believe there was no other side at that time. Nazis were running concentration camps years before Normady.
There most certainly were ant-Nazi resistance groups in Germany and in occupied countries.
 
  • #17
412
4
That's obviously false.

Yes, I would say partially. I forgot about Abu Garib. I still doubt over the effectiveness of UN war crimes or just UN in general.

There were a number of alleged war crimes involving Allied personnel that were investigated by the Allied powers and that led in some instances to courts-martial. Other incidents are alleged by historians to have been crimes under the law of war in operation at the time, but that for a variety of reasons were not investigated by the Allied powers during the war, or they were investigated and a decision was taken not to prosecute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war_crimes_during_World_War_II

Initially, I was thinking about Israel (haven't seen any actions).
 
  • #18
cristo
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
8,122
74
But even if you are right, millions of normal Germans allowed those atrocities to happen when collectively they could have stopped them.

It's all well and good saying that in retrospect, but at the time this would have been an incredibly difficult thing to do. After all, how many people are willing to stand up and put themselves and their family's life on the line? If you turn a gun on a superior in Nazi Germany, you will most certainly be killed, along with your family. Remember that at the time Hitler made it perfectly legal to shoot any worker who went on strike let alone someone who rebelled against him!

It's easy enough to look back and say that there were millions of people who sat back and let this happen, but let's remember that at the time Germany was in depression (fuelled by the American depression), had a lot of Communism which the people didn't like, and was generally a beaten country who was not even permitted to build her own army (by the treaty of Versailles, which many Germans hated), and whom had no sense of pride, nationalism or anything else. Hitler offered a way out of this.

Before people start attacking me, note that I'm not condoning anything that the Nazi party did, but I'm just saying that one needs to consider the background to a situation instead of just looking back with 21st century eyes at a situation that they find hard to comprehend.
 
  • #19
412
4
There most certainly were ant-Nazi resistance groups in Germany and in occupied countries.

They could either choose to die by the hands of axis or allied. I don't see they had many options.

Looking at then economical situations and Hitler's propaganda, it was hard to escape IMO.
 
  • #20
412
4
It's easy enough to look back and say that there were millions of people who sat back and let this happen, but let's remember that at the time Germany was in depression (fuelled by the American depression), had a lot of Communism which the people didn't like, and was generally a beaten country who was not even permitted to build her own army (by the treaty of Versailles, which many Germans hated), and whom had no sense of pride, nationalism or anything else. Hitler offered a way out of this.

Yes, I also agree with that.
 
  • #21
mgb_phys
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,819
15
I don't see what this has to do with your previous post, but in any case, if the international community agrees with you, they are free to attempt to prosecute the supposed crimes.

Spain is trying to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/29/guantanamo-bay-torture-inquiry
Actually Spain is trying not to but it's tricky to deny the petition under Spanish law (unless the lawyer bringing the case turns out to conveniently be a terrorist of course).

There are a few US doctors who might want to consider vacationing at home if the red cross are to be believed. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/07/cia-medics-guantanamo-torture-red-cross
 
Last edited:
  • #22
MATLABdude
Science Advisor
1,657
5
There was a SS Lieutenant, Kurt Gerstein who reportedly contacted the Vatican and the Swedes to try to get the word (and evidence) out about the holocaust (he also later released the Gerstein Report used as testimony during the Nuremberg Trials)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Gerstein

In general, the Nazis went to great lengths to try to hide their crimes against humanity (from both their own people and the intended victims). The T4 Program ('euthanization' of mental 'defectives'--its use against a sister in law might've been what motivated the aforementioned Gerstein to join the SS and do what he did) was the only such program to have any written orders, and even then, people only saw the sanitary bits about 'relocating' the intended victims (and obviously, Germans clued in, got angry, and the program got terminated 'for the duration' near the expansion of the war in 1941):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_T4

Similarly, the death camps (as opposed to forced labour and generic 'concentration' ones) were built in occupied countries (out of sight, out of mind), largely with slave labour (who also supplied the labour required for its 'operation'--so long as they avoided succumbing to it themselves), and overseen by a small coterie of the Totenkopf SS. All nice and tidy and self-contained, ready to be sanitized as soon as the deed had been done, and victory achieved. That or be ambiguous enough that their modern day apologists can claim that it was all one big smear campaign. (It also didn't help that most of the worst were in Poland and liberated by the Soviets, who don't have particularly clean hands either).

But back to the point posted by cristo, what are you to do when you're some poor REMF b**** with a conscience, and orders to do something like this? You either end up going out in some small blaze of glory, likely accomplishing next to nothing (and getting replaced by someone who *will* do as ordered), or you keep your head down and do as ordered. I think it's pretty rare to be someone like Wilhelm Canaris, and be not only ideologically opposed to something, but be in a position of sufficient power to actually do something about it (i.e. sabotage and subvert the entire Abwehr and OKW intelligence efforts):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Canaris

(Yes, I realize all the links I've posted come from Wikipedia; look in the footnotes of the associated articles)
 
Last edited:
  • #23
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2021 Award
28,247
12,933
Why is it that a nazi soldier following orders gets punished? He was following orders, if he didn't then he would be likely killed. So is this really a no win-win situation, for him and many nazis that were sentenced in the past?

Well, first "I was only following orders" is not a defense. Ask Rusty Calley.

Second, most guards were not tried - Demjanjuk was thought particularly culpable. As an example, 31 people were tried at Buchenwald. How many thousands of guards were stationed there?

One thing to keep in mind during this discussion - Demjanjuk was acquitted by the Israelis on appeal. Part of the American ideal of justice is that people should not be subject to repeat prosecution for the same crimes once acquitted (double jeopardy). Is it fair or right to try him in country after country until one convicts him?
 
  • #24
1,851
7
It is not clear that he is guilty of anything. Israel released him after he was acquitted of being Ivan the Terrible at Treblinka and after the new evidence sugesting that he was a guard as Sobibor arose. They released him on a few different grounds, including the fact that the evidence was seen to be weak and gaining a conviction was therefore unlikely.
 
  • #26
tiny-tim
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
25,836
255


I'm not trying to defend this guy, what he did was wrong.

But you are trying to defend him … you said …
… He was following orders, if he didn't then he would be likely killed.

That's simply not correct.

There's no record of any Nazi soldier being executed or even court-martialled for refusing to kill Jewish civilians …

the worst that might happen for disobeying an order in a non-combat situation would have been transfer to fight on the Russian front (which he joined his army unit to do anyway).
 
  • #27
tiny-tim
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
25,836
255
Double jeopardy

It is not clear that he is guilty of anything. Israel released him after he was acquitted of being Ivan the Terrible at Treblinka and after the new evidence sugesting that he was a guard as Sobibor arose. They released him on a few different grounds, including the fact that the evidence was seen to be weak and gaining a conviction was therefore unlikely.
… Demjanjuk was acquitted by the Israelis on appeal. Part of the American ideal of justice is that people should not be subject to repeat prosecution for the same crimes once acquitted (double jeopardy). Is it fair or right to try him in country after country until one convicts him?

"for the same crimes" … of course not.

But his Israeli trial was for crimes in Treblinka, and his defence was alibi … he simply wasn't there.

He proved his alibi by proving that he was in Sobibor and Majdanek, and the proposed new trial is for crimes allegedly commited there (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demjanjuk#New_charges_and_deportation).
 
  • #28
cristo
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
8,122
74


There's no record of any Nazi soldier being executed or even court-martialled for refusing to kill Jewish civilians …

And no record of something like this means it didn't happen?
 
  • #29
tiny-tim
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
25,836
255


And no record of something like this means it didn't happen?

YES!! :rolleyes:

The German system was highly bureaucratic, and kept extensive records.

The trial or execution of any soldier in the German army (and allied units) would certainly have been recorded.

There are no such records (of "something like this").
 
  • #30
412
4


That's simply not correct.

No, that's correct in some exceptional cases :smile:
 
  • #31
1,851
7
Germans who were helping Jews would end up in concentration camps themselves. They would typically not be tried.
 
  • #32
1,851
7
Shirō Ishii had more to offer to the US than Demjanjuk has, so he was not prosecuted for war crimes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiro_Ishii" [Broken]

Arrested by the American occupation authorities at the end of World War II, Ishii and Unit 731 leaders received immunity in 1946 from war-crimes prosecution before the Tokyo tribunal in exchange for germ warfare data based on human experimentation. On 6 May 1947, Douglas MacArthur wrote to Washington that "additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii probably can be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as 'War Crimes' evidence." [5] The deal was concluded in 1948.[6]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731#Activities"
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #33
tiny-tim
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
25,836
255


No, that's correct in some exceptional cases :smile:

What are you talking about? :confused:

There's no record of any Nazi soldier being executed or even court-martialled for refusing to kill Jewish civilians.
 
  • #35
tiny-tim
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
25,836
255


Germans who were helping Jews would end up in concentration camps themselves.

Yes, that's correct … helping Jews was a crime.

But refusing to kill Jews wasn't a crime.

And refusing to obey an order (for a soldier) was a disciplinary offence (or military crime), but

i] offending soldiers weren't sent to concentration camps! :rolleyes:

ii] and refusing to obey an order in a non-combat situation wasn't punishable by execution.

what has helping Jews (or not helping them) to do with the topic of this thread? :frown:
 

Related Threads on Deportation of an 89 year old nazi

  • Last Post
2
Replies
39
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
22
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
2K
Replies
46
Views
9K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
3K
Replies
87
Views
10K
Replies
4
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
673
  • Last Post
2
Replies
38
Views
7K
Top