Thursday, April 20, 2017

Holocaust - Prosecution of Nazi Criminals

"It was unknown that the Allies prepared prosecutions of Adolf Hitler and the rest of the Nazis for the death camps in Europe while the Nazis were still in power and while they were still running occupied Europe."
"There are many such dossiers [in the files of the UN War Crimes Commission] of legally prepared indictments of Hitler and other Nazis for many of their crimes, including the extermination of the Jews, and these were drawn up long before D-Day."
"You  can't say that people didn't know. They did know and still didn't act."
"There was a great deal more evidence and a great deal more that could have been done to prosecute than was done."
"The commission's files contained indictments against thousands of Nazis who were then allowed to go free."
"[The UN files contain evidence of war crimes which] provides a whole hardware store of nails to hammer in the coffin of Holocaust denial. This is a huge trove of prosecutions of the Holocaust from during World War II, legally authorized documentation."
"They [the UN War Crimes Commission] had a very effective, low-cost system for prosecuting low-level perpetrators, and we badly need something like that today."
"If they could be taking evidence from people escaping from under the jackboot of the SS, why aren't we doing the same when it comes to people escaping from Syria?'
Dan Plesch, historian, Human Rights After Hitler
A group of children at the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp on Jan. 27, 1945, just after the liberation by the Soviet army.
A group of children at the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp on Jan. 27, 1945, just after the liberation by the Soviet army. The Associated Press

For one thing, what would come of the scrupulous accumulation of damning anecdotal evidence that interlocutors could obtain by questioning Syrians escaping from the death-clutches of Syrian dictator Assad? The United Nations, from its earliest years when in 1945 it inherited the mantle of the League of Nations to the present, has acted as a nonchalant conscience to the world. The United Nations acts as witness to world events, lauding itself as a force for peace in the world, but because its member-states act always in their own interests, and a majority of the members give short shrift to human rights, the institution is feeble and incapable.

The civilized world's heart bleeds at the prospect of children suffering, facing deadly harm, tortured and mutilated, and slaughtered. A great uproar of indignation is heard, but nothing of any real significance beyond the rhetoric of politicians making speeches to impress listeners with the mistaken belief that help and rescue are all possible. A process that soothes the public. And then the plight of the helpless and the vulnerable is soon forgotten, placed high on a shelf too troublesome to reach for to re-ignite resolve should frustrating new indications of such abuses recur.
Photos of Jewish children in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Photos of Jewish children in the Auschwitz concentration camp. (Credit: De Agostini/G. P. Cavallero/De Agostini Picture Library /Getty Images)
It is not as though this historian discovered something absolutely never before known. Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews, and the steps taken to carry it forward were no secret. Even before the infamous Kristallnacht took place the Third Reich and its propaganda machine had formulated the pattern whereby Europe's Jews were marginalized, dispossessed, dehumanized, ghettoized, then sent to work camps and to death camps. As for what happened in the death camps, escapees and survivors spread the word.

Disbelief met their claims, but that soon enough turned to grim acceptance of what was occurring. Still, the Allies decided they couldn't spare the ammunition it would take to bomb the transport mechanism whereby Europe gave up its Jews to collection points from which they could be gassed and their bodies incinerated, although the German military felt it could spare the rolling stock, the fighting men and the vital reserves to pursue its genocidal goal. Even before the League turned into the UN the institution had fairly full knowledge of what was happening.
The United Nations War Crimes Commission meets on May 6, 1945, in the Royal Court of Justice in London with members of a U.S. Congressional Committee that had just completed a tour of German concentration camps.
The United Nations War Crimes Commission meets on May 6, 1945, in the Royal Court of Justice in London with members of a U.S. Congressional Committee that had just completed a tour of German concentration camps. (Credit: Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)

What is new is that though Mr. Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at University of London discovered that the Allied leadership and the United Nations was set to undertake a wide prosecution of those who aided and abetted and made possible the extermination of six million Jews, the determination to follow through was lacking, other than for the formalities of the Nuremberg Trials to set an example for the world that evil has its payback consequences.

The world gasped in collective horror at the liberation of Auschwitz and Treblinka and all the other countless death camps where living corpses were freed from their fate and a wide distribution of the news of what had taken place was released worldwide. But the victors made their accommodations with the vandals of humanity. Not only did work to regenerate Germany take place, but Nazi scientists, war criminals themselves, were given haven in the United States where those like Wernher von Braun helped America design rocketry munitions that Hitler had instructed them to create for Germany.

The West knew very well long before the war came to its end that there was a window before the Final Solution went into overtime whereby they could rescue Jews from fascist death agonies planned for them. The SS.St.Louis whose German captain did his utmost to help save close to a thousand German Jewish men, women and children, was met with refusals from a cross-section of the free world, from Cuba to the United States to Canada and Great Britain. No Jews need apply for haven, and so the ship limped back whence it had come.

But Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States worked feverishly to see that justice would prevail in the creation of the UN War Crimes Commission (UNWCC), co-operating to investigate 36,000 international criminal cases -- until an American decision to turn its attention from punishing Nazis to fighting communism ended up shuttering the UNWCC; a low priority, after all. Leading to American intelligence officials urging the UNWCC files to be prohibited from public access.

It was a UNWCC form whereby Canada outlined charges against SS commander Kurt Meyer, convicted of ordering the murders of 20 Canadian prisoners of war in 1944 that led Mr. Plesch to the vast archive and a subsequent effort on his part to persuade UN authorities that the secret material should be released.

Microfilmed documents, part of the UN War Crimes Commission Records (1943 – 1949), at the United Nations Archives in New York.
Microfilmed documents, part of the UN War Crimes Commission Records (1943 – 1949), at the United Nations Archives in New York. (Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

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