Why do Germany's laws protect Nazi defendants? - opinion

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Why do Germany's laws protect Nazi defendants? - opinion
© (photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS) Gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Recently, several Holocaust-related trials are being held in Germany in which the defendants are being charged with accessory to murder. German law protects their anonymity.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

As a rule, a defendant in a criminal case in Germany has the right to identity protection: his full name and photo are not revealed to the public. In Germany, privacy rights are very far-reaching, protecting the suspect and the convict alike. Only in a few exceptions do judges decide that the public right to information prevails. This has not been the case in the holocaust-related trials currently underway.

In this article, we explain why such far-reaching identity protection in cases relating to Nazi crimes is inappropriate. Identity protection, it is argued, is similarly inappropriate in regard to defendants charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and cases of severe crime. In regard to these cases, they call for the publication of a current photo and the disclosure of the full name of the accused. 

Global Tech News Daily

Due to identity protection rules in Germany, the German version of this article published in Die Welt on Tuesday had the surnames of the accused as an initial because it could not be written in full.

Despite the 2019 indictment and 2020 conviction of Bruno Dey, who served at the Stutthof concentration camp between 1944-45, of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder by a Hamburg court, no current full-face photo of this person has appeared anywhere in German newspapers. In all images of Bruno Dey, he is shown with his face concealed.

Global Tech News Daily

Despite charges filed in 2021 against Irmgard Furchner, who served as a secretary to the commandant of Stutthof concentration camp, Paul-Werner Hoppe, of accessory to the murders of 11,412 inmates between 1943-45, and against Josef Schuetz, who served as a guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, of knowingly and willingly being an accessory to the murders of 3,518 prisoners between 1942-45, no current full-face photo of these defendants has appeared, only with their faces concealed.

Why do Germany's laws protect Nazi defendants? - opinion
© Provided by The Jerusalem Post HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR Emil Farkas (center), who testified against Sachsenhausen concentration camp guard Josef Schutze, poses with Dr. Felix Klein (right), the top German official responsible for combating antisemitism, and Dr. Efraim Zuroff. (credit: ILANA DREYER)

While the names of the accused are not given in full in media sources inside Germany, this is not the case outside Germany. There appears to be a lack of awareness of this in Germany and abroad.

Is German law’s identity protection of these defendants justified?

In legal proceedings, a balance is sought between basic value-principles: The public nature of the trial and the accused’s privacy rights. Are the unique privacy-law concepts in German law appropriate in the prosecution of Holocaust-related crimes or should Israel’s model of full disclosure be preferred in cases where issues of terrible crimes against humanity and war crimes are involved?

Invariably, criminal cases arouse public interest and that is especially true in regard to those that relate to Nazi perpetrators. In regard to criminal cases as a whole, it is usual in America, the UK and Israel for the full name of the accused and the indictment to be available on its filing and a photo of the defendant is not precluded from publicity at the opening of a trial (in the absence of a petition to the contrary) and full disclosure is taken for granted, i.e. a current photo and full name of the defendant, certainly upon conviction. Were it to be thought that the presumption of innocence should preclude such disclosure, then all criminal prosecutions would necessitate a veil of anonymity until conviction – a view that is highly questionable, untenable and not applied anywhere in the world.

In war crimes trials and in regard to crimes against humanity, historically and today in international courts and tribunals, the name of the defendant, the details of the indictment and photo of the accused are generally available to the public prior to any hearing. This too has been the case in Nazi trials in Israel, Great Britain, the United States and elsewhere. However, in the Nazi-related cases recently held in Germany, uniquely and extremely restrictive practices are put into effect – such that the disclosure of the defendant’s full name or photo are proscribed at the filing of the indictment, after the trial has begun and occasionally even after the defendant has been convicted. This is an anomaly and though the media sometimes brings about greater disclosure, the question remains as to whether this exaggerated form of identity protection in Germany, applied equally to the Nazi-related cases, is appropriate – and what this may say about societal norms in Germany, in regard to looking at its past, its own hidden face.

Germany’s post-war legal system failed to address the criminality of hundreds of thousands of Germans directly involved in cruel, inhuman deeds between 1939-45 who were never prosecuted, let alone punished for their crimes. The past was left in the past and the vast number of criminal perpetrators have lived in German society undisturbed, some even keeping their positions, in all aspects of life. Today, two generations later, there are those who try to redress this travesty of justice and seek to prosecute offenders, still alive, who served in the Nazi apparatus created to facilitate the systematic killing of large numbers of innocent people.

Since the Demjanjuk case, it has been possible in Germany to convict for accessory to murder – without proof of a specific criminal act – any individual who served in any capacity in a death camp or in the Einsatzgruppen (S.S. death squads) that were responsible for the murder of 1.5 m. people, based on service alone. This is a noteworthy development unique to German law in regard to Nazi-related crimes, enabling a new spate of prosecutions. To begin with, the Demjanjuk precedent, on its facts, established culpability of any individual who served in any capacity in a vernichtungslager (extermination camp, such as Chelmo, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau) and this has been broadened from 2019 with the Rehbogen prosecution and Dey conviction, the defendants having been guards at Stutthof concentration camp, to apply to concentration camps still in existence in late 1944 and 1945. This, in turn, has provided the legal foundation for the recent cases against Furchner and Schuetz.

Has this new spate of prosecutions really fulfilled its promise? On the one hand, the prosecution of elderly Nazi perpetrators (who are at least in their nineties nowadays) reinforces the tenet that severe culpability does not diminish with the passage of time. Nowhere else is this being done. Perhaps this is not surprising, as there probably remain hundreds of indictable people in Germany, in categories enabling criminal prosecution under the new precedents that facilitate liability for accessory to murder. On the other hand, proceedings have often been protracted, unreasonable for aged defendants who have invariably died (or were considered unfit at some point) before the trial has ended or any sentence could be implemented. Even when guilt has been clearly established and culpability forthrightly declared, actual sentencing is slight, with few of imprisonment. A slow appeals procedure exacerbates this problem, which, if not completed, may put in question a conviction.

With identity protection becoming so exploited and adhered to in these cases, the danger is that, despite the intention of the prosecutions to underscore the undiminished culpability for Nazi crimes, German law as carried out constructs a kind of virtual reality, with no real punishment and no real defendant at all.  It is a sort of theoretical, abstract application of law focused upon history, with trials and convictions of invisible and unseen defendants who are spirited back to their old-age homes.  It is a blip of activity in twilight days and then they continue their lives undisturbed, as if nothing transpired.

If they follow this phenomenon of virtual-reality proceedings, the hope of more cases will be thwarted and the good intentions of the new spate of prosecutions undermined by this inappropriate procedure of identity protection.

Surely, the providing or otherwise of the defendant’s full name and current photo cannot be at the option of the defendant, there must be proper acceptable guidelines and norms. An entirely different approach is required: Disclosure should be the rule in these cases, not concealment of identity. Only upon a reasoned petition by the defendant asking for identity protection should such be considered in rare cases.

The insistence on identity protection in this way, as in the cases of Dey, Furchner and Schuetz, seeks to demonstrate a denial of culpability and it is essentially an illegitimate act. Cases should be conducted solely by the normative procedure of denying the charges and presenting a defense. Surely, public interest requires that the name and current photo of such a defendant be available from the filing of an indictment and that the defendant be precluded from concealing his identity.

In proceedings involving war crimes or crimes against humanity identity protection is misplaced. In all the famous Nazi trials of the past – to some extent also in Germany – the identity of defendants was not concealed. It would not have been contemplated in the Eichmann trial, which had wide media coverage showing the defendant in a glass booth, or in Israel’s Demjanjuk case and the practice internationally in regards to war crimes trials has always been to provide full identity disclosure. Public interest requires this and it is the norm as can be seen in the practices and procedures of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet, currently in Germany, regardless of the substance of the charges, identity protection in these cases has become the routine, which is systematically exploited and considered acceptable.

From the time of filing charges of this kind, current photos of Dey, Furchner and Schuetz with their full names should have been made available. This would not have prejudiced their defense claims nor the presumption of innocence. Respect for the substance of the proceedings and the victims require this. Compliance with these defendants’ wishes to evade exposure and culpability is based on a misguided concept of privacy rights. The severity of the indictment and the culpability of the defendant are down-played by this concealment of identity.

The dreadful past and the faces of those complicit in the murderous acts of the Nazi regime need to be seen. Nowadays, we see elderly people giving testimony, describing their sufferings at these terrible sites that stain humankind, but we also need to see those who played a role in this evil killing apparatus. This is what one would expect of German law and society, and therein lies the meaning of finding a defendant accountable for the crimes ascribed to him. Behind this inappropriate identity protection there lurks legal, moral and conceptual faults in a Germany that claims to have honestly confronted its past.

The prospect of further trials with insubstantial sentences and virtual, unseen defendants is unsettling. What these cases set out to achieve is being undermined. For Nazi-related crimes, legal policy and balanced values require meaningful sentencing and the transparency of a glass booth, not hidden identities and concealed faces.

These faces are concealed because they are the faces of all the ordinary millions of Germans who unreservedly supported the bestial Nazi regime and without whom the efficient running of the genocidal, killing machine would not have been feasible. In the faces of people being charged with accessory to murder, millions of Germans living today can see their own grandparents – and the broad culpability of such individuals is that which German society has yet to accept and find it difficult to face.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of the Center’s Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs. A Holocaust historian, he is the author of four books, translated into 15 languages. His most recent volume, with Ruta Vanagaite, is Our People; Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).

David Schonberg has written on topics of law, and works as an attorney in Jerusalem.

News Related


New York Rangers get another comeback win to force Game 7 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH — How many times can the New York Rangers dig themselves into a hole and climb back out? At least one more, as of Friday night. The Blueshirts came ... Read more »

Wilson, balanced Aces cruise to 96-73 victory over Dream

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (AP) — A’ja Wilson scored 15 points, Kelsey Plum had 14 points and 11 assists and the Las Vegas Aces rolled to a 96-73 victory over the ... Read more »

EXPLAINER: Why frustration lingers in Okinawa 50 years later

The Associated PressFILE – U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Mike Anglen of Turner, Ore., center, stands atop a cliff as Sgt. Bryan Wallace of Pikin, Ill., waits for his turn before ... Read more »

Astros beat Nationals 6-1 for 11th straight victory

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep and the Houston Astros extended their winning streak to ... Read more »

Kreider scores late, Rangers edge Pens 5-3 to force Game 7

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Kreider’s long slap shot bounced over Louis Domingue and into the net with 1:28 left and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on ... Read more »

Astros push winning streak to 11, roll past Nationals 6-1

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, and Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep to help the Houston Astros extend their winning ... Read more »

Moustakas, Drury power Reds to 8-2 victory over Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Moustakas homered twice and Brandon Drury drove in four runs to break out of a slump and lead the resurgent Cincinnati Reds to an 8-2 victory ... Read more »

Peterson's bases-loaded walk lifts Brewers over Marlins 2-1

MIAMI (AP) — Jace Peterson walked against Anthony Bender with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Miami Marlins 2-1 Friday night. After starters ... Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during manager Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Ogunbowale, Gray help Wings rally past Mystics, 94-86

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 27 points, Allisha Gray had 21 and the Dallas Wings overcame a 15-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Washington Mystics 94-86 on Friday night. ... Read more »

Resigning North Dakota senator led lawmakers in travel costs

The Associated PressFILE – North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg listens during a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee meeting at the Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Jan. 7, 2009. Holmberg, ... Read more »

Residents in picturesque California county hit with gas prices topping $7 a gallon

A California county known for its spectacular mountains and proximity to Yosemite National Park has been paying the nation’s highest gas prices. Read more »

Boudreau to return as coach of Canucks next season

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Bruce Boudreau will return as coach of the Vancouver Canucks next season after helping to turn the struggling NHL club around as a midyear replacement. ... Read more »

New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID

On Location: May 13, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tested positive for COVID-19 ... Read more »

Today in History for May 14th

Highlights of this day in history: Colonists go ashore in Virginia to set up Jamestown; Lewis and Clark begin to explore Louisiana Territory; Israel founded; Skylab launched; Movie producer George ... Read more »

Twitter CEO expects Elon Musk acquisition to close, addresses spending cuts

Musk is awaiting details supporting calculations that spam, fake accounts represent less than 5% of Twitter's users Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Renovated NYC museum shows indigenous perspectives

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City recently finished a major renovation of its exhibition on the native peoples of the northwest coast of North America. Curators ... Read more »

Police release 911 calls in Gilgo Beach case

A woman who disappeared in a beach community on New York’s Long Island more than a decade ago, sparking an investigation into a possible serial killer, said “there’s somebody after ... Read more »

Academy Awards set 2023 Oscars for March 12

The Associated PressFILE – Oscar statue on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Next year’s Academy Awards will ... Read more »

Actor Fred Ward, of 'Tremors,' 'The Right Stuff' fame, dies

The Associated PressFILE – Fred Ward, a cast member in “30 Minutes or Less,” poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 2011. Ward, a ... Read more »

Judge refuses to drop elections suit against Trump, media

NEW YORK — A Colorado judge on Friday denied motions to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by an election systems worker against former President Donald Trump’s campaign, two of its ... Read more »

Q&A: Becky G unveils every side of herself in latest album

The Associated PressFILE – Becky G appears at the Oscars in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. Beck G’s latest album is “Esquemas.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) NEW YORK ... Read more »

North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak. Read more »

North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says 21 people died and 174,440 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Friday alone as the country scrambles to slow the spread ... Read more »

White Sox place Giolito on COVID list, activate Vaughn

The Chicago White Sox placed ace Lucas Giolito on the COVID-19 injured list and activated outfielder Andrew Vaughn following a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. Giolito began experiencing ... Read more »

Traded back and forth, Ford learns to live out of suitcase

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Ford has learned to travel light — and quickly. Since the start of the season, the 29-year-old first baseman has played for Tacoma, San Francisco ... Read more »

Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink satellites

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from California on Friday. (May 13) Read more »

Celtics' Robert Williams remains out for Game 6 vs. Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Boston forward/center Robert Williams missed his third straight game with an injured left knee as the Celtics tried to keep their season alive Friday night in Game ... Read more »

Padres sign Robinson Canó, plan to use him off the bench

ATLANTA (AP) — The San Diego Padres have signed veteran second baseman Robinson Canó to a major league contract and plan to use him as a left-handed bat off the ... Read more »

WNBA star's Russia detention extended by 1 month

The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner says her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month. Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press the relatively short extension indicated ... Read more »

Louisiana justices toss COVID-related charges against pastor

Hundreds of thousands of Americans fighting long-haul symptoms from COVID-19 Dr. David Putrino from Mount Sinai Health System and COVID long-hauler Joel Fram discuss the long-term effects of the disease.The ... Read more »

Sandy Hook lawsuits against Alex Jones on track to resume

The Associated PressFILE – This Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, photo shows radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at Capitol Hill in Washington. The Sandy Hook families’ lawsuits against ... Read more »

Rockies' Bryant closer to return after cortisone shot

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Rockies outfielder Kris Bryant took swings in the cage Friday for the first time since he was sidelined with a sore back nearly three weeks ago ... Read more »

Mariners demote Jarred Kelenic to minors after poor start

NEW YORK (AP) — Rather than make his Citi Field debut against the team that traded him, Jarred Kelenic was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma by the Seattle Mariners on Friday ... Read more »

Biden: ASEAN partnership 'critical' in this moment

Looking to strengthen ties, President Joe Biden welcomes leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Washington for the first time. “We’re launching a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations,” ... Read more »

Phil Mickelson will not defend his title at next week's PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson caught lightning in a bottle last year at Kiawah Island, winning a major championship at 50 years of age. The fairways flooded, and the golf world stood and ... Read more »

Tennessee Titans' Malik Willis on Ryan Tannehill's mentorship comments: 'Everything is cool'

The Tennessee Titans didn’t take issue with Ryan Tannehill’s comments about mentoring third-round rookie Malik Willis. Willis and coach Mike Vrabel were asked about Tannehill’s scrutinized remarks following the first ... Read more »

Lawyers plan suit against Lufthansa over Jewish passengers

Lawyers for 26 passengers said Friday they told Lufthansa that they will sue the German airline for refusing to let members of a large group of Orthodox Jewish passengers board ... Read more »

Wild face offseason after yet another early ouster

While the Minnesota Wild were stacking up franchise records and securing the extra home game for the first round, general manager Bill Guerin carefully acknowledged a “great year” for the ... Read more »