Farce Masquerading as Justice

The ZMan talks about this subject from time to time:

A German court has sentenced an 89-year-old woman to 14 months in prison for Holocaust denial.

Ursula Haverbeck, dubbed the “Nazi Grandma”, has been convicted several times but is yet to spend time in jail.

She was first given a jail term last year but received additional punishment for handing out pamphlets repeating her beliefs to those attending court.

Under German law, Holocaust denial constitutes a crime and carries a sentence of up to five years in jail.

I think the law on Holocaust denial is stupid, but that’s the law in Germany. What I find silly is the next sentence:

Haverbeck and her late husband were members of the Nazi party during the Second World War.

If Haverbeck is 89 in 2018 she was 16 or 17 when the war ended and 10 or 11 when Germany invaded Poland. Her membership of the Nazi party is absolutely meaningless, given her age and the fact it was compulsory.

As the ZMan is fond of pointing out, this hounding of supposedly octogenarian Nazis isn’t about justice, it’s about virtue-signalling. Everyone who was in any position of authority during WWII is now dead or so old they might as well be. Even those in their mid-nineties were little more than kids, and those they still insist on dragging from their care homes in front of a court are charged only with having been there at the time and doing admin work:

PROSECUTORS in Munich confirmed today they have opened a probe into a 92-year-old woman who served in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.

They said the elderly woman from Chiemgau in Bavaria served at the Stutthof camp near Danzig – now Gdansk in Poland – where 60,000 inmates suffered and died.

Prosecutor spokesman Florian Weinzierl said that the investigation into her role in the camp was ongoing, but it is known she worked in the telephone exchange of the camp.

This would mean she transmitted and received orders about prisoner arrivals, departures and liquidations.

The passage of time has dealt with any Nazi who ever existed, regardless of what they did or didn’t do. The next step, if they continue like this, will be to hound the children of Nazis, thus giving prosecutors an entire new generation to go after. This stopped being about justice a long time ago, and it’s time this farce was stopped.

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39 thoughts on “Farce Masquerading as Justice

  1. Indeed. And if there were any justice, war criminals of *all* sides in WWII would now be dragged to courts. Germans were definitely not alone in performing atrocities. From loyal cadres of Stalin to men of Arthur “Bomber” Harris, the same standard should apply. Or then just not. It’s past and gone.

  2. Though for WWII era communists, they’re also in the grave now.

    But many of those who worked for East Block in 1980’s are still in high position. They are the ones these hunts should contentrate on.

  3. Pekka I am thinking that foremost amongst those are people such as the judges that the EU is trying to prevent the Hungarian government from removing from officr

  4. Don’t think you can guarantee they’re quite all dead. People aged 18-20 were still old enough to commit very serious crimes, and to have had enough responsibility and direct involvement that they were not mere “admin assistants”. Though I am sure the masterminds and anyone at a fairly senior level are long dead now, there are likely to be some people out there for whom justice has yet to be delivered. People with blood on their hands. As you say, they’d have to be in their nineties, but not necessarily their late nineties. Obviously prosecutions are difficult given quality of evidence, health issues and so on but given the enormity of the crimes involved I don’t think it’s time to call the hunt to a halt just yet.

    If they are going to do it, they should urgently get on with it, because there is a huge difference between early 90s and late 90s (actuarial tables are bloody depressing in this respect). As you say the “Nazi member” thing is really of little value, any more than it was on Pope Benedict XVI.

  5. Prosecutor spokesman Florian Weinzierl said that the investigation into her role in the camp was ongoing, but it is known she worked in the telephone exchange of the camp.

    This would mean she transmitted and received orders about prisoner arrivals, departures and liquidations.

    Err, if she “worked in the telephone exchange” it probably was on a plugboard.

    One day, the telephone rings. “Obergruppensturmbannführer Winzig here, can you connect me with Hauptmann Klein please?” “Jawohl, Herr Obergruppensturmbannführer” (she selects the right plug and inserts it in the right hole in the board). “Hauptmann Klein? Obergruppensturmbannführer Winzig for you.” “Danke.” She flicks a switch and hangs up.

    What was then said between Winzig and Klein is then said between Winzig and Klein. I guess she could have patched herself in to listen, but “receiving orders and transmitting them” actually consists of operating a plug board.

    This is beyond a joke.

  6. (by the way, if anyone gets the reference to the film from which I took those names I’ll be very impressed)

  7. Usual rubbish by a journalist only going on what he was given in a press release and not having the intelligence to realise that someone might actually read what he has written.

    Of course the lady might have “sexed up” some of her messages:

    “Herr Eichmann ? A telegram has arrived from Herr Heydrich, message reads:
    Execute six Jews… sorry that should read six million Jews immediately. regards RH.

    Hardy Kruger was a Nazi. He was on a documentary a couple years back saying how his parents were committed to the cause and he used to appear in propaganda films. He was in the Hitler Youth, but when he was sent to Austria, given a pointed stick and told to capture that advancing Sherman tank, he realised that perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all, shot his (Belgian) SS officer and surrendered.

    There were serious considerations by the EU to extend Holocaust denial legislation across the bloc. This was around 2012, I believe, at the time an Austrian newspaper rather sniffily said that of course the only people who would object to such a law would be right wing Anglo Saxons with their obsession about “free speech”.

  8. Err, if she “worked in the telephone exchange” it probably was on a plugboard.

    Yeah, aged 18-20. Meanwhile, nobody is interested what members of the German establishment did or didn’t do in East Germany. I’d like to see a complete and accurate record of Angela Merkel’s past affiliations, for example. Can we see her Stasi file, or is that like Obama’s thesis? From Wiki:

    In 1986 she was able to travel freely to West-Germany to participate at a congress; she also participated in a multi-week language course in Donetsk.

    Able to travel freely to West Germany, eh? Does this sound like someone who the regime didn’t like much?

  9. I’d like to see a complete and accurate record of Angela Merkel’s past affiliations, for example.

    Given that she had a high-ish position in academia at the time (iirc) she must have been openly systemtreu

    Oh, and in case you haven’t seen, Guido’s done another doc dump on Comrade Corbyn, this time from declassified CIA docs.

  10. (by the way, if anyone gets the reference to the film from which I took those names I’ll be very impressed)

    Cross of Iron?

  11. Cross of Iron?

    Nope. A rather more light-hearted film with a slight Swiss connection to it 😉

  12. Angela was born in Hamburg and had a West German passport. The East Germans had no way to stop her travelling to the west.

  13. Angela was born in Hamburg and had a West German passport. The East Germans had no way to stop her travelling to the west.

    Firstly, they could deny her an exit visa. People rather forget about those – you needed not only an entry visa to get in, but an exit visa to leave, irrespective of if you had a Western passport or not (I have seen such exit visas in a West German passport in an exhibit).

    Also, her choice to live in East Germany and to work in their politically-directed academia is, in and of itself, suspect.

  14. The East Germans had no way to stop her travelling to the west.

    I find that hard to believe. Being born abroad didn’t help people escape communist regimes elsewhere, unless they managed to flee.

  15. Plus, plenty of Americans who had gone to the USSR in the 20’s and early 30’s ended up in Gulag or shot when their exit was denied. Their passports were also confiscated “for safekeeping”.

    There’s stories of the NKVD hanging around the US embassy in Moscow picking up all those US citizens who went there to try to get replacement passports to leave during Stalin’s purges.

  16. And talking about exit visas – it’s a fairly simple test as to whether a country is at least vaguely free – if it applies the concept of an exit visa, it isn’t.

  17. Plus, plenty of Americans who had gone to the USSR in the 20’s and early 30’s ended up in Gulag or shot when their exit was denied. Their passports were also confiscated “for safekeeping”.

    Indeed. And even if East Germany wasn’t quite as bad as Stalin’s Russia, I find it hard to believe an East German citizen with a West German passport would be allowed to travel willy-nilly between the two without attracting serious attention, and hassle, from the Stasi. Unless, of course, they were politically reliable beyond doubt.

  18. Well obviously spuriously banning one of the handful of BRD citizens living in the DDR from travelling would have been well worth the diplomatic incident. And the huge propaganda own-goal. Stupid me.

  19. I’m trying to think what a long-term resident of Switzerland would find light-hearted. Escape from Sobibor, maybe?

  20. Well obviously spuriously banning one of the handful of BRD citizens living in the DDR from travelling would have been well worth the diplomatic incident.

    It’s not so much that, BiG. It’s that any such person who held dual-nationality and wasn’t politically reliable would have had a hard time living in the East, would not have been allowed to join the Communist youth groups, nor attend a prestigious university. Any such person would have been watched like a hawk. And were the West Germans prepared to create a diplomatic incident over a dual citizen who chose to live permanently in the East? I doubt it.

  21. Ach, Herr Neumann, you haf been being ferry ferry funny ha ha viz your light-hearted jokez about playing ze games of hopscotch on ze minefield again.

    Nein. Überraschenderweise it is not even a film about ze Krieg.

  22. And were the West Germans prepared to create a diplomatic incident over a dual citizen who chose to live permanently in the East? I doubt it.

    I suspect that, presuming she had no public profile in West Germany, the reaction would have been entirely “Meh. Own fault. Play with fire, get burned”.

    Would the BRD have been bothered to expend political capital over an exit visa for a random long-term dual national? Doubt it. In any case, as a general principle one of your countries can’t protect you against the authorities of the other if you’re a dual national (although exceptions are made for high-profile people).

  23. I find it hard to believe an East German citizen with a West German passport would be allowed to travel willy-nilly between the two without attracting serious attention, and hassle, from the Stasi

    Sorry another reference to a TV documentary, this time about old-time steam trains. This guy in Stuttgart had liked looking at locos, but of course by the 1980s the only place to see them in Germany was the DDR. So he use to organise weekends with his mates to go trainspotting in the East.

    In the early 90s he thought, for a laugh, to ask the Stasi records archives whether they had anything on him, because he often saw shady characters at these events who were obviously keeping tabs on the westerners. He was invited to go and have a look and discovered to his horror that there was an entire shelf dedicted to him. The entries in the log books all correlated with his scrapbooks where he had photos of these steam trains, being German, with the dates and times entered.
    I think we can be rest assured that Mrs Merkel and others like her had their own minders.

  24. A friend of mine went to the DDR once, for a sporting event. He has seen his stasi file.

    It’s for these reasons that I don’t believe the statement from the BtSU that there’s no file on Corbyn – I bet if he requested it it’d be there, but they want the press and random people to stop bugging them (pun intended).

  25. Is there any evidence that Merkel was a DDR citizen?

    If the charge is that she is some kind of Marxist-Leninist she’s clearly the most useless one ever to have lived, having failed despite 12 years in charge to turn Germany into a Marxist-Leninist oppressive totalitarian regime.

    If the most totalitarian thing about Germany is that it prosecutes people who promote past totalitarian regimes that have been proven to be exceptionally nasty, then I think I can live with that!

  26. Is there any evidence that Merkel was a DDR citizen?

    She moved there with her parents aged 3 months in 1954, according to Wikipedia. She lived almost her entire life there, including being a member of the Communist youth organisation, and went to university in Leipzig. If she wasn’t a citizen of the DDR it would be extraordinary – which rather proves my point about her past being rather less well documented than I’d like.

    If the charge is that she is some kind of Marxist-Leninist

    There’s no charge. But I’d rather see the likes of Merkel’s past subject to proper scrutiny than people in their nineties being prosecuted for manning telephones in their teens. Unlike some, I don’t see the current Germany under Merkel as being all nice and fluffy – quite the opposite, in fact.

  27. BTW the film reference from which I took “Winzig” (tiny) and “Klein” (small) is the genuinely very funny “Was ist denn bloß mit Willi los”. It’s very much of its era, but if you understand some German it’s well worth a watch.

    There’s a couple of Swiss references in there (a song and a charachter) that, if you understand the Swiss-Germans at all, you’ll get a smidge more out of it, since they did it very well.

  28. “If she wasn’t a citizen of the DDR it would be extraordinary”

    Why would it be extraordinary? Citizenship is a legal status that you have or not, conferred by the law of a country. A lot of Brits (and Australian politicians) seem to think it is some kind of matter of choice on the part of the citizen, or happens automatically by living somewhere a long time, or is lost if you don’t bother to renew a passport.

    None of this is true. The amount of bureaucracy and rigmarole that can be involved in proving that you are or are not a citizen of some place is extensive.

    I’ve held three different citizenships in my life, for most of my life at least two simultaneously, and have had to ditch a useless citizenship in favour of a useful one, and prove both presence and absence of citizenship to do so. I’m guessing, just guessing, that bureaucracy in the DDR was even more torpid and innavigable than it is in the modern-day BRD.

    The old DDR citizenship law is easily available online and she would only have qualified as a citizen if she had applied for it, actively. It would not have been conferred by moving there even one day after birth and enthusiastically pursuing all manner of communist activities. Furthermore, in becoming an Ossi, she would have automatically lost her West German citizenship, something we know didn’t happen as she has talked at length about the unusual freedom to travel she enjoyed while living in the east, the point being that this was otherwise a privilege reserved to only the highest ranking nomenklatura, which she was not.

    So actually I think it is unlikely she was a DDR citizen.

    “I don’t see the current Germany under Merkel as being all nice and fluffy”

    At least current Germany is principally a danger to itself. Look, anyone here with a brain wants a clear break from the refugee mania, and a clear move towards what used to be known as conservatism but is now smeared as some kind of far-right extremism.

    But the choices right now aren’t good. Either we have another grand coalition which kicks the can down the road causing a bigger problem, or new elections in which AfD will become the second biggest party. Neither are palatable options.

  29. BiG,

    I respect you know a lot about Germany. What I don’t think you know a lot about is how communist countries worked. There is no way Angela Merkel could have lived her life in East Germany as she did as a foreigner, unless she was an active foreign agent working on behalf of East Germany. Perhaps if she was Russian or Czech yes, but not solely West German. Communist regimes simply didn’t give that sort of latitude, let alone access to communist youth groups and top universities, to citizens of capitalist countries.

    At least current Germany is principally a danger to itself.

    Personally I think its stranglehold on the EU and its extreme duplicity in relation to Russia makes it a danger to everybody.

    Either we have another grand coalition which kicks the can down the road causing a bigger problem, or new elections in which AfD will become the second biggest party. Neither are palatable options.

    And whose fault is that?

  30. The German situation was a bit different. People who moved in both directions were of at least propaganda value. That propaganda war was intense because of the shared language and history, and the fact that both governments explicitly aimed to annexe the other.

    I’ve no doubt Merkel and co were kept close tabs on when in the west and probably asked to report back on anything interesting.

    Merkel is a power tripper. She became involved in politics the second the wall came down. If she could have done beforehand she would have – that western passport was likely the only reason she didn’t. She couldn’t.

    And yes, of course it’s her fault!

  31. “extreme duplicity in relation to Russia makes it a danger to everybody”

    Yeah, I often cannot help wondering whether a good chunk of the German establischment secretly misses feshly painted Russian tanks on the streets of Berlin.

  32. Membership in the party (the NSDAP) was not compulsory. Joining the Hitlerjugend, the youth organization, was required of all girls and boys aged 14-18 but some managed to wiggle out of that. Ursula was 16 when the war in Europe ended, too young to be a party member.

    In contrast, her husband – 19 years her senior – joined the party in the late 1920s and was a senior member of the Nazi student league by 1933. But his party career stalled in 1934, he returned to his academic studies, received a doctorate and never held senior positions again under Nazi rule.

    In other words, the lady was probably not a party member at all while her husband was a prominent Nazi activist in 1929-34, which is a more important piece of information than his being a member during WWII.

    Anyway, they only met in the late 1960s and married in 1970, when she was in her early 40s and he in his early 60s.

  33. I disagree with this, because it’s almost impossible, 70 years later, to judge people doing something that the government told them was legal, under those circumstances.

    This woman was in Poland, and if you read up on Polish Anti-semitism before the war, it wasn’t as bad as Nazi Germany, but it was bad: excluded from working in many businesses, restrictions on education and government jobs. The law not only says this is OK, but offers a job. Probably some of her family and friends were OK with this too.

  34. @MBE
    “People aged 18-20 were still old enough to commit very serious crimes, and to have had enough responsibility and direct involvement that they were not mere “admin assistants”.

    Then that would apply to a friend’s father.
    Lithuanian, he was drafted into the Lithuanian army in his teens. Following the ’40 Soviet invasion he was deported to Russia & a forced labour camp. The German attack on Russia realigned sympathies & he was “volunteered” for service in the Red Army. Captured, wounded, by the Germans he was held in a PoW forced labour camp but accepted an offer to non-Russian prisoners to enlist in the German military. Finished the war as a concentration camp guard in Poland, nominally under SS command. In the immediate post-war havoc he managed to get himself to Austria & was interned in an American run camp under forged papers. In Austria he met & subsequently married a Russian woman. on DP papers. The couple were admitted to the UK, where he worked as a Nottingham miner until his retirement.
    In the nineties the War Crimes people were sniffing around him but he had the good fortune to die before they’d gotten around to organising a trial.

    Sorry, MBE, but you’re going to come up with a lot of people like this. The option to being a camp guard would probably being worked to death, being killed in German uniform by the Russians or even the allies. Or worse, being captured by the Red Army in any capacity & going the way several hundred thousand East Europeans & Russians did under Stalin’s gentle hand. Another name amongst the disappeared.
    The people in authority were fully culpable in what happened during the war. The cogs in the wheel mostly did what they were told & tried to survive. Don’t forget, what they were living through was what it was. Until the very end they had no reason to expect an allied victory & liberation. Resistance, even not fully cooperating, was a short way to a pointless death or worse. There were few heroes willing to fight & die for their country or principals because many had no country or or remaining principals to fight & die for. Their preoccupation was personal survival.

  35. The people in authority were fully culpable in what happened during the war. The cogs in the wheel mostly did what they were told & tried to survive.

    Exactly, and this is a point ZMan makes. For all the talk that “I was just following orders” doesn’t wash, actually it does. Not if you’re a senior officer no, but if you’re an ordinary grunt drafted and stuck in uniform and the options are follow orders or have a bullet in the head, then yes, “I was just following orders” is a reasonable excuse.

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