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Author Topic: Ex-Nazi goes on trial in Germany  (Read 4923 times)
Koen
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« on: 28 October 2009, 19:21:16 »
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A former member of the Nazi SS has gone on trial in Germany charged with the wartime murder of three civilians in the Netherlands.

Heinrich Boere, 88, has previously acknowledged shooting dead three people in 1944, as reprisals for attacks by the Dutch resistance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Boere

The trial went ahead after an appeal court ruled he was fit to be tried.

However, the hearing was adjourned when the five-judge panel said it needed time to consider more legal argument.

The trial is due to resume on Monday, court officials said.

Anti-Nazi protesters had gathered outside the court in Aachen as the trial opened.

Relatives of some of the victims were also in court.

Correspondents said Heinrich Boere entered the courtroom in a wheelchair with a doctor by his side, but appeared alert and attentive as he answered questions. The hearing was adjourned shortly afterwards.

The defendent is charged with killing three men: Fritz Bicknese, a chemist and father of 12; bicycle seller Teun de Groot, who helped Jews go into hiding; and resistance member Frans Kusters.

He admitted the killings to Dutch authorities while in captivity after the war, but escaped before he could be brought to trial. He later fled to Germany.

'Killing terrorists'

He has also confessed to his role in interviews with the media.

"Yes, I got rid of them," he told Focus magazine. "It was not difficult. You just had to bend a finger."

He told Spiegel magazine that he and his accomplices thought they were killing "terrorists", adding: "We thought we were doing the right thing."

A tribunal in Amsterdam sentenced him to death in absentia in 1949, a sentence later reduced to life in prison.

A Dutch extradition request was turned down by Germany in the early 1980s.

He was eventually indicted in Germany last year, but a court in Aachen then said he was unfit to stand trial due to health problems.

That ruling was reversed in July by an appeals court in Cologne.

Boere, who is of Dutch-German origin, was 18 when he joined the SS in 1940, shortly after the Germans overran his hometown of Maastricht.

After fighting on the Russian front, he went to Holland as part of an SS death squad codenamed Silbertanne (Silver Pine).

His statements to Dutch authorities are expected to form the basis for the prosecution's case, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Defence lawyers have declined to say how they will try to counter the confession.

But even if he is convicted there remains some doubt over whether he will actually go to jail.

A 90-year-old former German infantry commander, Josef Scheungraber, was given a life sentence by a German court in August, but remains free while his appeal is heard.



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Boere lives in an old-age home in his birth town of Eschweiler, Germany. In an interview with Der Spiegel, he said "I'm not interested in what happened back then."


 Huh?

previously he was unfit to be trialed: http://www.bild.de/BILD/news/bild-english/world-news/2009/01/07/nazi-war-crimes-trial-in-germany/against-ss-killer-heinrich-boere-dropped-too-ill-to-face-court.html

more to read:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1198100/Nazi-hitman-Heinrich-Boere-88-IS-fit-stand-trial-1944-triple-execution-court-rules.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/08/nazi-hitman-heinrich-boere-trial
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MontyB
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« Reply #1 on: 29 October 2009, 04:51:49 »
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I don't want to come across as some apologist for Nazi attrocities or any thing but I do think it is time to let some of these cases rest especially when in many instances allied personnel carried out similar actions without reprisal.

In the immediate aftermath of the war there was a point to hunting down the perpetrators of war crimes but shooting 3 civilians is hardly the same as shipping millions off to death camps or carrying out medical experiments on living patients and when taken into account along side allied actions against civilian populations for post war resistance I just tend believe it is best to close the book on minor WW2 crimes.
 
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« Reply #2 on: 29 October 2009, 05:29:16 »
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For the most part I agree with you. Let's also not forget just how old these men were when they did this.

Teenagers in most cases.

However, a point to consider is how would you feel if it had been your grandfather that was one of the 3 men he shot?

It's a tough call this long after the fact. Here in the US there is no statute of limitations on murder. Not sure how the laws are in Europe concerning that.

Good Hunting.

MR
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stoffel
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« Reply #3 on: 29 October 2009, 11:11:20 »
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In Holland its 25 years for murde I think.
But this man was allready convicted before.

Thats the difference, he escaped and became German citizen with a German pass.
Now its possible for Germany with the new laws in place to let him go back to jail to do the rest of his sentence.
Personally I think its just a waist of money.
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« Reply #4 on: 29 October 2009, 16:49:35 »
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Yeah seriously.
He's an old guy and I'm pretty sure he wished the whole Nazi thing never happened.
The only reason to jail him would be to show that anyone planning on joining another criminal organization will never find peace of mind until death.
But not really.  This sort of strictness seems to apply only to Nazis.
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Koen
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« Reply #5 on: 29 October 2009, 18:53:59 »
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When Heinrich Boere is asked how he was able to shoot three Dutch resistance fighters, he tells interviewers: “Not difficult, you just curled your finger around the trigger and pulled. Bang!” And then he laughs.

The 88-year-old former Waffen SS member never hid his past, but has managed to use every possible loophole to escape trial and imprisonment. Yesterday, however, the robust pensioner finally reached the dock.

His case in Aachen, in western Germany, will be followed by the Munich trial of John Demjanjuk next month.

Mr Demjanjuk, 89, is facing charges of complicity in 27,900 cases of murder.

The prosecutors in both trials face similar problems: the defendants are old and can credibly claim infirmity or memory loss; the witnesses to their crimes are frail and their testimony can be questioned.

Mr Boere, who lives in an old people’s centre in his home town of Eschweiler, near Aachen, is the son of a Dutch father and German mother. Before the war they moved from Eschweiler and the young Mr Boere joined a Dutch battalion of the Waffen SS.

He fought in the Caucasus, fell ill and returned to the Netherlands, where he was made a reservist. This was 1943: more than one hundred thousand Dutch Jews were being deported to the death camps; half a million Dutchmen had become forced labourers and the resistance was starting to fight back, shooting collaborators.

Mr Boere was put on a hit squad. The SS leadership announced that for every attempt on the life of a German or German collaborator, three Dutchmen would die. As he freely admits, Mr Boere killed three Dutchmen — a pharmacist, a businessman and a bicycle shop owner, Teunis de Groot.

De Groot’s son, also called Teunis, was in court yesterday. He was asleep when the doorbell rang early on a Sunday morning in 1944 and his father was shot in the hallway. “I was 11 years old,” he told reporters. “It was the end of my childhood.”

Later, as a prisoner of war, Mr Boere confessed to the killings. But before he could be brought to trial he fled across the border into West Germany. In 1949, a Dutch court sentenced him in absentia to death. This was later commuted to life imprisonment. The case lapsed — there was little enthusiasm in West Germany to pursue a man who, by the horrific standards of the Holocaust, seemed small fry.

In 1980, the Dutch lodged a formal extradition request. An investigation was opened by the German prosecutor’s office. It concluded that the killings in which Mr Boere was involved were “acceptable acts of war” in response to the illegal acts of the Dutch resistance. The ruling allowed Mr Boere to glide towards a comfortable retirement. The Dutch judiciary continued to push Germany. In February 2007, the Aachen court ruled that Mr Boere should sit out his Dutch life sentence in a German prison. Mr Boere appealed. Since he had no legal representation in the 1949 Dutch trial, it could not be accepted by a German court.

It was only through the energy of Ulrich Maass, the state prosecutor who works at the Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Dortmund, that the case finally reached court. Soon after taking on the case he visited Mr Boere to see whether the man was fit to stand trial.

“Shortly after I left him he caught all sorts of illnesses that perhaps he wouldn’t have caught if I hadn’t visited him,” Mr Maass said.

Health problems became a last line of defence, but the High Court decided that Mr Boere was fit enough to stand trial — and to be confronted by the man whose childhood he stole.

Still, the defence team did manage to trip up the proceedings on the opening day, arguing that Mr Maass had prejudged the outcome.

“Most of the victims’ families want, above all, that these acts are made public,” Mr Maass had said. That was sufficient for the defence lawyers to win an adjournment. The court is to reconvene next week.



http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6894367.ece
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Koen
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« Reply #6 on: 24 March 2010, 19:56:41 »
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8582449.stm

Quote
Former Nazi SS member convicted of Dutch murders

A German court has sentenced an 88-year-old former member of the Nazi SS to life in prison for the murder of three Dutch civilians in 1944.

Heinrich Boere had told the court in Aachen that he killed a bicycle shop owner, a pharmacist and a member of the resistance as part of a death squad.

But he said he was following orders and would have been shot for not doing so.

Prosecutors said Boere was a willing member of the SS, which he joined after the Netherlands was invaded in 1940.

But correspondents say that there remains some doubt over whether Boere, who uses a wheelchair and lives in a nursing home, will actually go to jail.

A 90-year-old former German infantry commander, Josef Scheungraber, was given a life sentence by a German court in August, but remains free while his appeal is heard.

Boere's lawyer, Gordon Christiansen, has said he will appeal.

'Totally random'

In December, Boere testified that he had shot Fritz Bicknese, a chemist and father of 12; bicycle seller Teun de Groot, who helped Jews go into hiding; and Dutch resistance member Frans Kusters.

He told the state court that he and fellow members of the SS Silbertanne (Silver Pine) death squad had been informed by their superiors that the men were to be killed in retaliation for attacks by the resistance.

"I knew that if I didn't carry out my orders I would be breaking my oath and would be shot myself," he said.

"At no time in 1944 did I act with the feeling that I was committing a crime," he added. "Today, after 65 years, I naturally see things from a different perspective."

But the presiding judge, Gerd Nohl, told the court that all three killings had been carried out "on a totally random basis" and constituted murder.

"These were murders that could hardly be outdone in terms of baseness and cowardice - beyond the respectability of any soldier."

Members of the death squad had worn "civilian clothes, rain coats, and carried out the crimes either early in the morning or late in the evening", and the risk to Boere when he shot the three men had been "zero", he added.

The pensioner looked on impassively as the sentence was handed down.

The top Nazi hunter at the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Efraim Zuroff, welcomed the conviction, saying it was "again another proof that even at this point it is possible to bring Nazi war criminals to justice".

"It also underscores the significance of the renewed activity on the part of the German prosecution," he told the Associated Press.

Extradition

Boere, who was born near Aachen to a Dutch father and German mother, moved to the Netherlands when he was an infant.

He was 18 when he joined the Waffen SS, shortly after the Germans overran his hometown of Maastricht in 1940. After fighting on the Russian front, he ended up back in the Netherlands as part of the Silbertanne squad.

He admitted the killings to the Dutch authorities when he was in captivity after World War II, but managed to escape from his POW camp and returned to Germany, where he has since lived.

In 1949, a tribunal in Amsterdam sentenced him to death in his absence - later commuted to life in prison.

A Dutch extradition request was turned down by the West German government in the early 1980s, after a court ruled that there was a possibility Boere had German citizenship.

Following a request that Boere serve his sentence in Germany, a German appeals court ruled three years ago that the 1949 trial was unfair because he had not been present.

He was eventually indicted in April 2008, but a court then said he was unfit to stand trial, largely because of heart problems. The decision was eventually overruled on appeal last July.

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MontyB
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« Reply #7 on: 24 March 2010, 20:41:46 »
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For the most part I agree with you. Let's also not forget just how old these men were when they did this.

Teenagers in most cases.

However, a point to consider is how would you feel if it had been your grandfather that was one of the 3 men he shot?

It's a tough call this long after the fact. Here in the US there is no statute of limitations on murder. Not sure how the laws are in Europe concerning that.

Good Hunting.

MR


The problem I have with this is that it is very subjective as we know the same process (maybe not to the same extent) was carried out by Russians advancing into Germany and Prussia, the French were not squeamish in their approach to German POWs or Civilians and there are reports of American and British troops who dispensed their own form of justice (again much fewer examples), why are we just hunting down 90 year old Germans and not 90 year old Russians, French or who ever was responsible for crimes and lets not forget about the Japanese.

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« Reply #8 on: 24 March 2010, 22:14:44 »
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For the most part I agree with you. Let's also not forget just how old these men were when they did this.

Teenagers in most cases.

However, a point to consider is how would you feel if it had been your grandfather that was one of the 3 men he shot?

It's a tough call this long after the fact. Here in the US there is no statute of limitations on murder. Not sure how the laws are in Europe concerning that.

Good Hunting.

MR

MR, I am completely with you here; If he felt he had not done anything wrong, or if he had felt he might just have had some responsibility, in both cases: Show your face.

He didn´t, lived many years in total peace (apart from his nightmares?), so let him face trial.

Did something wrong? Well, face the consequences.

Did everything ok: Well, trust justice.

My take,

Rattler
« Last Edit: 24 March 2010, 22:24:58 by Rattler » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: 24 March 2010, 22:24:07 »
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The only reason to jail him would be to show that anyone planning on joining another criminal organization will never find peace of mind until death.
But not really.  This sort of strictness seems to apply only to Nazis.


Beg to differ, and big time: The way a true democracy solves its cases.

If he gets aquitted, fine with me, if not, fine with me also, have to trust German justice (civil more than mil).

When in the army (you all probably noted from the calendar that my 30 yrs silence obligation has finished, though I have decided - thanks Solideo for his input that took away most of my long time guarded fury - ): I was once ordered (in writing, in a maneuver) to kill some 14 kids of 6-8 years + their teacher, I refused and went through an institutional refused-order nightmare, after almost 2 years came out clean and even got promoted on exiting (latter not voluntarily, but part of the deal).

The way things have to be for a soldier, according to the law that makes us soldiers and not assasins.

Rattler
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« Reply #10 on: 25 March 2010, 01:07:31 »
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I would like to point out that no one that joined the SS joined a criminal organisation and not one did anything that their opposition wasn't doing at the same time.

Lets face it, Winston Churchill ordered that Luftwaffe rescue aircraft be shot down even though they were carrying the red cross, American submarine captains happily informed the world about shooting up Japanese survivors in the water after sinking their ships in their mission logs and as I recall 100,000 soldiers of the 6th Army surrendered at Stalingrad and only 5000 of them came home 12 years later I am pretty sure they didn't die of boredom and old age in a Russian POW camp.

I am not going to trivialise German atrocities of WW2 but we do have to face the fact that there were few if any knights in shining armour during that period of human history on any side and it is only the fact that the Allies won that saved their leaders for the same fate as Axis leaders.
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« Reply #11 on: 25 March 2010, 18:19:16 »
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For the most part I agree with you. Let's also not forget just how old these men were when they did this.

Teenagers in most cases.

However, a point to consider is how would you feel if it had been your grandfather that was one of the 3 men he shot?

It's a tough call this long after the fact. Here in the US there is no statute of limitations on murder. Not sure how the laws are in Europe concerning that.

Good Hunting.

MR


The problem I have with this is that it is very subjective as we know the same process (maybe not to the same extent) was carried out by Russians advancing into Germany and Prussia, the French were not squeamish in their approach to German POWs or Civilians and there are reports of American and British troops who dispensed their own form of justice (again much fewer examples), why are we just hunting down 90 year old Germans and not 90 year old Russians, French or who ever was responsible for crimes and lets not forget about the Japanese.


what you say is something that bothers me too, I am a neighbour of Germany, spent many holidays in that beautiful country with those friendly and inviting folks so the 'why' about the whole war always interested me alot....

only last year I read a book where US soldiers were some (limited numbers) put in a negative view....... in war there are little angels or heroes and when there are....they are on both sides....

why are there so many warmovies where the war has been shown by a German? almost none..... yes, they were wrong but why? what made it happen? it's very difficult to see a docu where this is visible...

I entered a discussion like this once before and I got close to being accused for some bad things, I hope here we are more civilized...

I'm not saying this guy should walk free...no way....but why did he do it? ofcourse there were guys who use the 'es wahr ein befehl' for their own pleasure but the 'you do it or we send you to the Russian front' has also been used...or even worse...their life of yours....

what would we have done when we were 10 years old in 1933 and we doctrinated/brianwashed until we were 18 years old and were forced to join the armed forces?

just my thoughts....
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MontyB
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« Reply #12 on: 26 March 2010, 04:57:42 »
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I have always been interested in the "why" aspect and until I started looking at the work of Stanley Milgram I really struggled to get to grips with how perfectly normal people could act in that way, I do not believe it excuses those who have carried out these acts but it does explain what caused them to carry them out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Milgram

Personally I think in regards to WW2 war crimes it is time to put them to rest, there is little to be gained in locking up 90 year olds and while we should not forget the actions of these people it is time to move forward.
« Last Edit: 26 March 2010, 05:03:19 by MontyB » Logged

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