AOn the one hand, there was no avoiding the indictment. murder is murder. And there is no statute of limitations as an aid to murder. Anyone who is capable of negotiating must face a criminal trial. So did the 97-year-old former secretary in the former Stutthof concentration camp, where thousands were murdered.
The accused has now been sentenced (because of her age at the time) to a youth sentence of two years, which has been suspended. Without a doubt, such a process is of great importance for the victims and their families, as well as for Germany’s reputation. It is another, in this form one of the last, milestones of a comprehensive attempt to come to terms with and come to terms with an almost incomprehensible past. The verdict is also an important signal to all contemporary genocides and war criminals. Because it also reflects the idea of current international criminal law: every head of state, but also every accomplice in a crime that affects everyone, must expect to be prosecuted. Whenever.
Guilt must be proven
On the other hand, this is about individual guilt that has to be proven. The court has made a real effort here. If the camp commandant’s shorthand typist at the time was a cog in the killing machine, she also encouraged the murder of the prisoners. The punishment for this is Solomon. The main purpose is the procedure as such.
Due to the fact that criminal prosecution has only started in recent years to include auxiliary workers, who only have to be proven to have worked in the camp, the impression remains that the last survivors are being made an example. Of course, you can no longer pursue the dead main criminals. But terrible crimes were not only committed in the concentration camps. There are also Wehrmacht soldiers and civilians who have at least witnessed horrific crimes. Weren’t they also a helping, promoting part of the Nazi murder machine?
But that is not up for debate, also for understandable reasons. The camps were the clearest and sometimes singular expression of the genocide. But the focus on the lowly concentration camp staff distracts from the entanglement of society as a whole and from millions of guilt. But that is too easy and not helpful – especially with a view to the current war of aggression and future crimes.