PA - Philadelphia man is Nazi probe target

Discussion in 'Crimes in the News' started by Reader, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Reader

    Reader New Member

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    http://centurylink.net/news/read.php?id=19087614&ps=1011&srce=news_class&action=10&lang=en&

    BERLIN (AP) — Germany has launched a war crimes investigation against an 87-year-old Philadelphia man it accuses of serving as an SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp, The Associated Press has learned, following years of failed U.S. Justice Department efforts to have the man stripped of his American citizenship and deported.

    Johann "Hans" Breyer, a retired toolmaker, admits he was a guard at Auschwitz during World War II, but told the AP he was stationed outside the facility and had nothing to do with the wholesale slaughter of some 1.5 million Jews and others behind the gates.

    The special German office that investigates Nazi war crimes has recommended that prosecutors charge him with accessory to murder and extradite him to Germany for trial on suspicion of involvement in the killing of at least 344,000 Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in occupied Poland.

    The AP also has obtained documents that raise doubts about Breyer's testimony about the timing of his departure from Auschwitz...............

    The conviction was not considered legally binding because Demjanjuk died before his appeals were exhausted. But prosecutors maintain they can still use the same legal argument to pursue Breyer. Under that line of thinking — even without proof of participation in any specific crime — a person who served as a death camp guard can be charged with accessory to murder because the camp's sole function was to kill people.................

    But he denied ever serving in Auschwitz II, better known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camp area where the bulk of the people were killed. He also said he deserted in August, 1944 and never returned to the camp, though eventually rejoined his unit fighting outside Berlin in the final weeks of the war.

    A U.S. Army intelligence file on Breyer, obtained by the AP, calls that statement into question.

    Much more at link......
     
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  3. michmi

    michmi New Member

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    He admits he served at the camp, get him out of here. Time to face the music.
     
  4. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    I have mixed feelings about this prosecution. I'm certainly not defending Nazis, but if I understand the prosecution's theory, Breyer isn't accused of any specific atrocity. He's being charged as an accessory for working as a guard at Auschwitz when he was a teenager. (18 or 19: not a little boy, surely, but still very young to defy a totalitarian regime.)

    (ETA I was posting at the same time as Michmi. Obviously, s/he is surer than I, but I'm not trying to start an argument here; I'm just expressing my misgivings as to whether this is justice.)
     
  5. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    Contrary to the impression given by American movies, American servicemen also committed atrocities on occasion. Do we want our Justice Department to spend time prosecuting the 70-year-old war crimes of teenagers?
     
  6. michmi

    michmi New Member

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    War atrocities should be prosecuted no matter which country commits them. This doesn't mean the death of every civilian--we are talking atrocities.

    I find it difficult to believe that a man could guard a gate, see a chimney working overtime, having ashes falling all over his spiffy uniform, never see train cars of people LEAVING the camp and not know mass killing was going on.

    I digress. Germany will prosecute, not us. We have an agreement that if a trial is to be held, we will extradite/deport the person being tried.
     
  7. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    Mixed feelings here too.

    My understanding, which is minimal at best, is that enlisting was mandatory at the time, nothing was a choice. I may be very wrong.

    ETA: Clarifying. I know the horror and atrocities, but my understanding is the major players were the cause, all the young men were forced to join and forced into positions doing things they did not choose with death as punishment if they refused. If this man was not directly responsible for those heinous crimes, was forced to be stationed there, then I am confused why he would be prosecuted. If he directly and willingly participated that is a different matter.
     
  8. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    I understand that this is Germany's doing. I was using our Justice Department only as a point of comparison and asking whether we would want the U.S. government to do the same?

    I'm willing to assume that most people in the vicinity of Auschwitz knew what was going on there. It is said the stink was unforgettable. But Germany isn't prosecuting the neighbors and I'm wondering how teenaged draftees can be expected to have defied that regime? (If Germany were prosecuting specific acts of sadism, I would feel very differently.)
     
  9. michmi

    michmi New Member

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    We're just going to have to disagree on this. I will never make you see my point and you'll never make me see yours. If it was possible, the German people as a whole should have been convicted and punished, because they knew. No pity for this guy, I just hope we can get him out of here like John Demjanjuk.
     
  10. LaLaw2000

    LaLaw2000 Active Member

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    I have no pity for this guy either, michmi.
     
  11. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    What do you think happened in Germany during and after WWII? Yes, we eventually helped them rebuild their economy (out of our own self-interest), but there were years of starvation and disease in the meantime. (Not to mention the third of the country that remained under iron-fisted Russian control for another 45 years.)

    I'm not saying that makes everybody "even". But I don't know where you get the idea that the German people simply skated through the war years and aftermath.

    And of course I understand your point of view. I'm merely suggesting there are nuances when we are talking about teenage draftees not accused of specific atrocities.

    You never answered my question about American war crimes. Should we start prosecuting them now? Because we rarely bothered after the war.
     
  12. LadyL

    LadyL Active Member

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    I don't believe his statement that he deserted ... then rejoined (and wasn't killed or something by his commanding officers for deserting in the first place?)

    however, I think at this point it's wasted resources to pursue legal justice in cases like this because true justice was lost in the immediate aftermath when authorities chose to ignore so many atrocities by many countries (mine included - there were 'work' camps here that my mother has indicated were inhumane at best)

    he'll never admit to it and even if convicted, his conviction will possibly always be in question because it was simply too long ago and too difficult to produce the damning evidence

    my husband's grandfather was at one of those camps (can't remember which one atm) and I've seen in my FIL what kind of lasting damage has been done to survivors - my FIL would likely say, just shoot him on the spot & don't even give him a trial
     
  13. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    I don't blame camp survivors and their descendants for wanting vengeance. That's human nature and I'd probably feel the same.

    But we expect judicial systems to act more dispassionately.

    English and American teenagers dropped napalm, deliberately targeting Japanese and German civilians and burning to death far more than were killed with the A-bombs. Of course the crews of Allied bombers weren't prosecuted because their nations won the war. (And let's don't even start on the Russians and their treatment of captives and "liberated" Slavs alike!)

    But bombing is perhaps a "grey area" and many would argue that such attacks on civilians were thought necessary to the war effort.

    So let's take a less ambiguous case:

    It is now commonly accepted that Americans fighting in Pacific jungles often killed Japanese prisoners because of the daunting and dangerous task of transporting captives through the brush. Should the U.S. government go back now--70 years later--and prosecute the survivors?

    If a kid who was drafted to stand guard at Auschwitz needs to be tried now, why not American Marines who committed murders with their own two hands?

    (To me, I think it's important to remember the atrocities so that we don't go to war with the expectation that wars are conducted as in the movies. But prosecution isn't the only way to educate the public and I don't see what we accomplish by putting 90-year-old men in prison.)
     
  14. Linda7NJ

    Linda7NJ New Member

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    Northeast Philadelphia man, 89, held on Nazi death camp charges
    PHILADELPHIA — An 89-year-old Northeast Philadelphia man is being held without bail and may face extradition to Germany on charges that he was complicit in "the murder of 158 trainloads of Jewish deportees," according to philly.com . Johann "Hans" Breyer , a retired toolmaker who adm...


    German authorities have charged Breyer with complicity in the murder of over 216,000 European Jews from Hungary, Germany, and Czechoslovakia, who were forcibly deported to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp on 158 trains between May and October 1944.


    http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/18/us/nazi-charge-philadelphia-man/


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  15. Linda7NJ

    Linda7NJ New Member

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    No rest for the wicked.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  16. Linda7NJ

    Linda7NJ New Member

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    He died.
     
  17. MsFacetious

    MsFacetious What a Kerfuffle...

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    He did die:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/man-aged-89-accused-being-3903625

    There is a new one charged though:

    A 93-year-old man has been charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for serving as an SS guard at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp, prosecutors said Monday.

    Oskar Groening is accused of helping operate the death camp in occupied Poland between May and June 1944, when some 425,000 Jews from Hungary were brought there and at least 300,000 almost immediately gassed to death.

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/0...3-with-accessory-to-300000/?intcmp=latestnews
     

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