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91 year old prosecuted for Nazi camp deaths

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Mstark
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I read this article in the Huffington Post online this morning and I thought it was strange and somehow not right. For the cliffnote version, a "case" has finally gone through the courts after 68 years from the event, in which a man is being charged as an accessory to murder for 28,000+ deaths which took place for the period of time he served as a guard in the Sobibor camp (only a few months). The thing that bothered me, was this statement:

"There was no evidence that Demjanjuk committed a specific crime. The prosecution was based on the theory that if Demjanjuk was at the camp, he was a participant in the killing - the first time such a legal argument has been made in German courts."

Anyone's thoughts? To me, that's a generality lacking any specific ties to his behavior and individual actions. The court is reacting out of pure spite and thrist for revenge of a mislead generation. It's an emotional ruling which lacks logic in my opinion, regardless of how I feel about nazism.

Click here to read the article

Edited by Mstark
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Yes, it stinks to high heaven. Especially since there really is no proof.

He asserts that some of the papers presented against him as evidence were false, and for a time the FBI agreed- then suddenly changed their minds. He says he was a Soviet soldier captured by the Germans. His story has always seemed plausable.

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Excuse me but this piece of human filth is an accomplice to the murder of thousands. Every single man in that Camp (in any of the camps) knew exactly what was going on in them and was there because he could be trusted to go along with the wholesale slaughter of human beings.

Soldiers (although I'm loathe to apply that word to this class of vermin) have not been able to claim that they were "just following orders" or "just doing their duty" for a long long time now, and that is as it should be. Men do not surrender their morality or their humanity when they don a uniform, and they MUST be held to account for their actions.

I'm disgusted that the sentence for this waste of skin wasn't life, or better yet, a one way trip to the shower.

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According to wiki he was a Red Army soldier captured by the Germans. Wasn't there a thread here a couple of months back about morality being irrelevant when no legitimate choice is presented?

I mean, I'd like to think I would have went through Door A when presented with the fine choices of "sit in a hole in a field until you starve" and "do bad things" (or rather "continue doing bad things" - Red Army soldier, after all), but for some reason I have no desire to find out.

Could have been interesting had the same collaboration logic were applied in Russia after the USSR finally imploded. Would have wound up looking like an Aztec festival, I imagine.

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Soldiers (although I'm loathe to apply that word to this class of vermin)

Why? It is not as if a soldier is intrinsically good. Soldiers of all nationalities, including American, have committed numerous atrocities as well as the opposite. Frankly, with how our foreign policy has been the last few decades, and especially since the Iraq invasion, I find it more questionable that an informed citizen would join up now than to pursue some other occupation (mind you, I mean for the "protect my country" reasoning, not financial or other reasons) than I used to when I was younger.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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Every single man in that Camp (in any of the camps) knew exactly what was going on in them and was there because he could be trusted to go along with the wholesale slaughter of human beings.

Soldiers (although I'm loathe to apply that word to this class of vermin) have not been able to claim that they were "just following orders" or "just doing their duty" for a long long time now, and that is as it should be. Men do not surrender their morality or their humanity when they don a uniform, and they MUST be held to account for their actions.

I'm disgusted that the sentence for this waste of skin wasn't life, or better yet, a one way trip to the shower.

Alright. So just to clarify your reasoning, do you think a guard in Guantanamo Bay, or any other governmental detainment facilities should be held accountable for the cruel things which go on while he is working there? How about another soldier on the battlefield who witnesses his brother in arms needlessly torture enemies? Should he be held accountable for someone else's actions? At which point do other people's actions become your own responsibility? Where do you draw the line?

And when you say he deserves a death sentence are you speaking for Objectivism and if so, explain.

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Alright. So just to clarify your reasoning, do you think a guard in Guantanamo Bay, or any other governmental detainment facilities should be held accountable for the cruel things which go on while he is working there?

Cruelty to terrorists is not on the same moral level as cruelty to innocents, and to suggest moral equivalence between the two is rather astonishing.

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According to wiki he was a Red Army soldier captured by the Germans. Wasn't there a thread here a couple of months back about morality being irrelevant when no legitimate choice is presented?

I mean, I'd like to think I would have went through Door A when presented with the fine choices of "sit in a hole in a field until you starve" and "do bad things" (or rather "continue doing bad things" - Red Army soldier, after all), but for some reason I have no desire to find out.

In the context of the fact that he was a captured Soviet soldier, who became an SS in the likelihood it was either that or death, I'm curious to know the specific point at which one's own survival is trumped by morality.

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Cruelty to terrorists is not on the same moral level as cruelty to innocents, and to suggest moral equivalence between the two is rather astonishing.

You're absolutely right. (I'm aware this is EXTREMELY topical and I'm correcting a previous statement I made in this specific post for personal reasons). I'm only playing the Devil's Advocate because I'm trying to understand where the line is drawn and what others think about the situation.

Edited by Mstark
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I don't think every guard at a Nazi concentration camp was prosecuted, nor do I think that is the intent of any prosecutor. However, in situations like this, one has some who go along and others who seem to really get with the program and do more than is absolutely necessary. In this guy's case, he was supposedly known as "Ivan the Terrible" who was particularly cruel. if that is true, then prosecuting him is the right thing to do.

Obviously, if his was a case of mistaken identity (as the Israeli court seemed to think), and if he was just one of many prison guards, and if the German court is punishing him for being a prison guard and not for any specific acts (as that linked article claims) that is wrong.

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And when you say he deserves a death sentence are you speaking for Objectivism and if so, explain.

The only person who can "speak for Objectivism" is Ayn Rand. And she won't be answering this question.

You may get several responses to your question indicating vaguely yes or no, but realistically they are speaking for themselves stating whether they believe that this is taking the Objectivist stance. But you should not take any such pronouncements as "official Objectivism". Not even mine. :)

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I don't think every guard at a Nazi concentration camp was prosecuted, nor do I think that is the intent of any prosecutor. However, in situations like this, one has some who go along and others who seem to really get with the program and do more than is absolutely necessary. In this guy's case, he was supposedly known as "Ivan the Terrible" who was particularly cruel. if that is true, then prosecuting him is the right thing to do.

Obviously, if his was a case of mistaken identity (as the Israeli court seemed to think), and if he was just one of many prison guards, and if the German court is punishing him for being a prison guard and not for any specific acts (as that linked article claims) that is wrong.

He was already cleared of the charge of being Ivan The Terrible.

This is an entirely different case in which he was charged with thousands of murders for the simple fact of being there. No evidence was presented to show that he did anything other than guard duties.

That and that alone is why I believe this is unjust. If a court can convict a man for murder while admitting you have no proof that he actually himself murdered people is there anything they can't do? anything they can't convict one of?

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Why? It is not as if a soldier is intrinsically good. Soldiers of all nationalities, including American, have committed numerous atrocities as well as the opposite. Frankly, with how our foreign policy has been the last few decades, and especially since the Iraq invasion, I find it more questionable that an informed citizen would join up now than to pursue some other occupation (mind you, I mean for the "protect my country" reasoning, not financial or other reasons) than I used to when I was younger.

You are correct, but as a soldier, I reserve that moniker for those who act as a soldier should. To me it is an honour to be a soldier (one that must be earned) and those who commit such acts are not worthy, they are criminals, nothing more.

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Alright. So just to clarify your reasoning, do you think a guard in Guantanamo Bay, or any other governmental detainment facilities should be held accountable for the cruel things which go on while he is working there? How about another soldier on the battlefield who witnesses his brother in arms needlessly torture enemies? Should he be held accountable for someone else's actions? At which point do other people's actions become your own responsibility? Where do you draw the line?

And when you say he deserves a death sentence are you speaking for Objectivism and if so, explain.

I am not talking about holding anyone accountable for anothers actions, I am talking about holding him accountable as an accessory to actions he would have known full well were taking place.

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In the context of the fact that he was a captured Soviet soldier, who became an SS in the likelihood it was either that or death,

Read the article. It specifically says that these red army soldiers who ended up working for the SS volunteered.

I'm curious to know the specific point at which one's own survival is trumped by morality.

So there is nothing you would not do to stay alive? Would you nail a baby to a telephone pole like they did in Bosnia? How about dumping the Zyklon B into the gas chamber yourself? Living isn't just the ability to draw breath it is living as a man, if you don't, if you have no principle or morality then you do not fit the definition "man" regardless of your continued existence.

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Read the article. It specifically says that these red army soldiers who ended up working for the SS volunteered.

My great-grandfather volunteered to be cannon fodder for the human mass that drowned Berlin in blood (both its own and Berlins'). Another volunteered to liberate the fine peoples of Finland all the way back in '39. Back in those days, in that place, you were given the freedom to volunteer where you were told, or suffer the consequences.

This was the situation in Denamjuk's homeland. A homeland under a dictatorship so horrible that people had actually welcomed the Nazis as liberators at first, and it took a lot of effort on the Nazis' behalf for that perception to change. That homeland had declared him and all those like him to be traitors for not dying, and for that had condemned him and his relatives to death and enslavement.

Actual experience may vary. Maybe he deserted his ranks and ran towards the German lines with a white flag screaming on how killing and torturing people has been his lifelong dream? Maybe he was nailing babies to poles, opening the gas valves in the showers and making a jewskin rug in his spare time? Maybe he is, in fact, Ivan the Terrible and the American, Israeli, German, and Ukrainian authorities had simply missed it somehow?

Maybe. And the day that is proven, he is to be hung whether 91, 120 or on his deathbed, because some people should not be allowed to die on their own terms. But until that day, condemning him is nothing more than a ritual sacrifice which, while fitting contextually, is not how we do things anymore.

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WetNurse, surely you see the difference between the act of fighting a war and killing individuals on the "enemy" side in individual actions of combat where your continued survival is not assured, and living healthy and happily in comfort while you preside over the mass extermination of innocent civilians.

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WetNurse, surely you see the difference between the act of fighting a war and killing individuals on the "enemy" side in individual actions of combat where your continued survival is not assured, and living healthy and happily in comfort while you preside over the mass extermination of innocent civilians.

But surely you see that these were not the options he was given to choose from? :)

Are you familiar with the Judenrate? The head Nazi in every ghetto, camp, etc would take a bunch of prominent Jews, and form a committee out of them that would sort the prisoners according to their usefulness (who can do skilled labour, who'll be useful breaking rocks, who's going straight to the showers - you know, the standards) as well as micro-manage them. Naturally, as soon as each community was done with, its' Judenrat went right along with it.

The point here is a quote from one Judenrat member that I'd read 20 years ago in elementary and can't shake off since: "The man in the shining uniform came into our home. He brought with him cake when none of us had seen bread in two weeks. He told me that I could take the position, or that someone else will".

In all years I've dwelt on the subject, I could not find a rationale to condemn that man.

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Maybe he deserted his ranks and ran towards the German lines with a white flag screaming on how killing and torturing people has been his lifelong dream? Maybe he was nailing babies to poles, opening the gas valves in the showers and making a jewskin rug in his spare time? Maybe he is, in fact, Ivan the Terrible and the American, Israeli, German, and Ukrainian authorities had simply missed it somehow?

Maybe. And the day that is proven, he is to be hung whether 91, 120 or on his deathbed, because some people should not be allowed to die on their own terms. But until that day, condemning him is nothing more than a ritual sacrifice which, while fitting contextually, is not how we do things anymore.

That's how I feel about the situation. He might be a terrible person. However those prosecuting seems to be an emotional collective of people who have forgotten about the way trial works. Fact is fact. They don't have fact that he is terrible, so they're working around it because they want to deal punish for the overall concept. They're out for blood. How many people are they going to find and do the same thing to, lacking evidence and using a theory? It's not the way a court should work.

The quotes, "We're hopeful that this verdict will pave the way for additional prosecutions in Germany" gives me the chills. Although I know they're trying to get justice against monstrosities, the way in which they're going about it isn't right.

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