Nazi concentration camp secretary trial

NotThatSoph

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I meant if you were a German born at that time rather than a siege of Redcafe Nazi Soldiers!
But why do you think most of your fellow Redcafe posters would have voluntarily worked at concentration camps if they were born German at the time when very, very few people who were actually born German at the time did so?
 

Carolina Red

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Doesn't look like that. I'm making the argument we should be questioning why it took so long and whether we are now "getting it right" or just being given scraps to be all happy with how things are now better.

E.g.

Nothing has changed. Same shit, different vintage.
The poster you quoted literally did what you said people aren't doing.

If it "doesn't look like that" it's because you're (ironically) being willfully ignorant as to what's been said in this thread.
 

carvajal

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I think she knew what was happening there and probably was proud of being there.
She was 18 years old in 1943, so from the age of 8 she heard the same propaganda. Jews, communism, international mistreatment of Germany. Now with 18 the enemies are still the same ones, but now winning the war, maybe her city had been bombed or perhaps she knew a victim from the Eastern front, in addition, months before the speech of the total war of Goebbels had been produced.
Maybe her eyes were opened when she became 18 but being loyal to the shit speech she heard since she was little seems reasonable too(I think @markhughes meant that?).
In any case, I don't know if the atmosphere from June '43 invited conscientious objections.
She should receive a sentence and ask the victims for forgiveness if necessary, although I also wonder how she went years without being judged after marrying an SS officer
 

markhughes

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But why do you think most of your fellow Redcafe posters would have voluntarily worked at concentration camps if they were born German at the time when very, very few people who were actually born German at the time did so?
I literally said "if you were in her shoes", not all Germans would have had the same exposure to the camps of course. The point I am trying to make is that the majority of these people were not born evil and that many were pretty respectable individuals before the regime, they did horrendous things that defy imagination of course.
 

NotThatSoph

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I literally said "if you were in her shoes", not all Germans would have had the same exposure to the camps of course. The point I am trying to make is that the majority of these people were not born evil and that many were pretty respectable individuals before the regime, they did horrendous things that defy imagination of course.
Of course not all Germans had the same exposure to the camps, because she willingly exposed herself to the camp by applying to work there! Over 60 000 people died at that place where she wanted to work. Plenty of people in similar circumstances didn't do what she did.
 

markhughes

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I think she knew what was happening there and probably was proud of being there.
She was 18 years old in 1943, so from the age of 8 she heard the same propaganda. Jews, communism, international mistreatment of Germany. Now with 18 the enemies are still the same ones, but now winning the war, maybe her city had been bombed or perhaps she knew a victim from the Eastern front, in addition, months before the speech of the total war of Goebbels had been produced.
Maybe her eyes were opened when she became 18 but being loyal to the shit speech she heard since she was little seems reasonable too(I think @markhughes meant that?).
In any case, I don't know if the atmosphere from June '43 invited conscientious objections.
She should receive a sentence and ask the victims for forgiveness if necessary, although I also wonder how she went years without being judged after marrying an SS officer
Yeah, the point iI was trying (and maybe failing) to get across is that these people were exposed to an environment which was able to take pretty regular people and make them commit awful acts in the name of a heinous regime/ideology. I honestly don't care if they take her to court or not, the timing of it is just weird and seems somewhat pointless at this stage.
 

markhughes

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Of course not all Germans had the same exposure to the camps, because she willingly exposed herself to the camp by applying to work there! Over 60 000 people died at that place where she wanted to work. Plenty of people in similar circumstances didn't do what she did.
Where does it say she applied for the role? I may have missed that possibly...did she also know what she was applying for?
 

NotThatSoph

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Where does it say she applied for the role? I may have missed that possibly...did she also know what she was applying for?
No one was forced to work in the concentration camps, all positions were voluntary. Especially for civilians, you'd apply for the job like any other job. As for if she knew? This was 43, not 33.
 

markhughes

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No one was forced to work in the concentration camps, all positions were voluntary. Especially for civilians, you'd apply for the job like any other job. As for if she knew? This was 43, not 33.
I wasn't aware of that, you learn something new every day...do you have any links I can look at detailing that information? I'd be glad to read it.
 

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I think what is generally accepted in war is that two sets or sets of allies fight each others combatants, there are collateral losses, those collaterals being intentional would be just as much war crimes but in general, combatants facing off, that is the machinery of war. Small cogs, big cogs engaged in what was just as much a business as it was the destruction by any means needed of an entire race, entirely innocent of any or all blame was quite another machinery, no German or their allies were forced to take on the job, they didn't need to fear execution, but big or small a vital part of that separate firm's activities. We'd like to see the big ones on tv on massive show trials sure and some were, many escaped through influence or wanted expertise but now we're down to the pool that should have been just as relevant all those years ago, for sure, they must have thought they'd gotten away with it but oh no, now their families know what daddy, mummy, grandad or grandma did during the war, their neighbours know, the assistants in the shops they bought their groceries from know, their bank manager knows and the tv and the media has their face, that person is still catching that national shame they thought they'd given a miss. Unfortunately it's not the time that matters so much anymore but a nation that was wronged and the nation that would like to move on and should be able to at some point can see that justice still matters. We shouldn't be able to give any cog a pass, we still need to remember the horror it seems.
I was going more for the specifics of a more widespread occurrence: no camps, no war, but authoritarian states with a strong grip on civil "liberties". E.g. every dictatorship we have spreading like wildfire every 40 years or so across Latin America.

I agree cogs shouldn't get a pass, handle with care, but 100% go after them. What riles me here is precisely that they got it. It was easy enough to namecheck the big bosses, but what you get from putting cogs under pressure is a lot more finer incriminating detail on those not as visible and, quite often, far worse than the bosses and executing the dirty work day in day out.

My take is a lot of big fish got away with it because all these cogs were just allowed to play dumb with no downside to it and no further investigation. It stinks of deliberate covering up of more senior nazis that stayed in positions of power. Too little too late.
 

NotThatSoph

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I wasn't aware of that, you learn something new every day...do you have any links I can look at detailing that information? I'd be glad to read it.
I'm not going to go look through my books, sorry, but it's not exactly secret information so I'm sure you can find something yourself if you want.

The work paid well, and it was often a good career opportunity. When doing morally heinous work it's also important to have true believers because if you force people to murder then they break.
 

antohan

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The poster you quoted literally did what you said people aren't doing.

If it "doesn't look like that" it's because you're (ironically) being willfully ignorant as to what's been said in this thread.
He is saying the way it was handled was bad but this is good.

I'm saying feeding on scraps is no indication that the justice system of today would have handled the past any differently. I question the notion we are now better or more enlightened as to how we handle these things.

Don't get giddy, covering up and protecting criminals in positions of influence is as bad as it has ever been.
 

oates

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I was going more for the specifics of a more widespread occurrence: no camps, no war, but authoritarian states with a strong grip on civil "liberties". E.g. every dictatorship we have spreading like wildfire every 40 years or so across Latin America.

I agree cogs shouldn't get a pass, handle with care, but 100% go after them. What riles me here is precisely that they got it. It was easy enough to namecheck the big bosses, but what you get from putting cogs under pressure is a lot more finer incriminating detail on those not as visible and, quite often, far worse than the bosses and executing the dirty work day in day out.

My take is a lot of big fish got away with it because all these cogs were just allowed to play dumb with no downside to it and no further investigation. It stinks of deliberate covering up of more senior nazis that stayed in positions of power. Too little too late.
I agree, a lot were allowed to get away, what this case does is remind me not just of the dictatorships as you mention but the governments of our own countries such as the UK keeping soldiers who there is no doubt in the public mind have killed illegally in many instances particularly in Northern Ireland and Iraq and Afghanistan protected from prosecution. The UK government isn't just protecting the small cogs either. We've a lot to be ashamed of in the UK too and there were atrocities committed during WWII also. Hopefully one day before they are allowed to die in their beds like Thatcher did the rest should be shamed in public and sentenced while still aware of what's going on.
 

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It was only relatively recently that a judge gave the instruction to start going after the smaller 'cogs'. Who can tell why they didn't before?
There was a ruling in 1969 by the highest criminal court in Germany that you need to tie a perso very close to the actual murder (in WW II) to convict that person.
That was basically a get out of jail card for everyone because it was difficult to prove who did exactly what and which actual person ended up being killed within the boundaries of a concentration camp.

Only in 2016 the very same court ruled differently.
 

oates

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There was a ruling in 1969 by the highest criminal court in Germany that you need to tie a perso very close to the actual murder (in WW II) to convict that person.
That was basically a get out of jail card for everyone because it was difficult to prove who did exactly what and which actual person ended up being killed within the boundaries of a concentration camp.

Only in 2016 the very same court ruled differently.
I wonder whether even 1969 was too early to be able to find witnesses ready to go over these things. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and it was still a period very close to the war and its effects. My friends and I had bomb sites for playgrounds in West London.
 

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I wonder whether even 1969 was too early to be able to find witnesses ready to go over these things. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and it was still a period very close to the war and its effects. My friends and I had bomb sites for playgrounds in West London.
I mean - politically the intention was to wrap up the happenings of WW II very quickly. Remember at that very time Germany had a chancellor who hat joined the Nazi party in 1933. So, the courts made that decision - but these judges are picked by people with influence.

So, from that POV, it was probably too early, because people preferred to hide these things under the blanket and did not talk about them openly. But also, many of the judges would have been former members in the Nazi party or had a role to play in WW II. For example, a standard read for crime law was named after a Nazi judge. This has been changed only in the last ten years - and some people were still protesting against it.

What @Carolina Red is true. Some people (and it's more than some) - to this very day - will sing the song of the clean "Reichswehr" (which was the German Army in WW II). It would be funny if it weren't.
 

oates

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I mean - politically the intention was to wrap up the happenings of WW II very quickly. Remember at that very time Germany had a chancellor who hat joined the Nazi party in 1933. So, the courts made that decision - but these judges are picked by people with influence.

So, from that POV, it was probably too early, because people preferred to hide these things under the blanket and did not talk about them openly. But also, many of the judges would have been former members in the Nazi party or had a role to play in WW II. For example, a standard read for crime law was named after a Nazi judge. This has been changed only in the last ten years - and some people were still protesting against it.

What @Carolina Red is true. Some people (and it's more than some) - to this very day - will sing the song of the clean "Reichswehr" (which was the German Army in WW II). It would be funny if it weren't.
Yeah, I expect you are right, I was just trying to judge the overall pressure from governments all round the world that weren't joined up in finding people who were still shattered and trying to find a sort of normal.
 

VorZakone

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Anyway, what a fecking awful time to have lived in eh? To this day I can't comprehend WW2 and its sheer insanity + scale.
 

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Yeah, I expect you are right, I was just trying to judge the overall pressure from governments all round the world that weren't joined up in finding people who were still shattered and trying to find a sort of normal.
At some point, they were not that interested either. Germany (western) became too important an ally against the communist block. [At the end, if there had been no communist movement in Eastern Europe, we might have seen more war criminals being prosecuted.]
 

nickm

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Yeah it's possible I have done the same as an 18 year old if I were raised in the same place and time, hard to say really but plenty of pretty ordinary people did atrocious things and people mostly went along with it, we are simply products of our time and experiences
We put people like her on trial to reduce the chance of today's 18 year olds following in her footsteps. Far too many nazis running around these days to be blase about letting that genie out of the bottle.
 

oates

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At some point, they were not that interested either. Germany (western) became too important an ally against the communist block. [At the end, if there had been no communist movement in Eastern Europe, we might have seen more war criminals being prosecuted.]
Yes, I forget that sometimes. Germany was split in two, I remember there was a lot of talk about West Germans being rehabilitated and who knew if that was even genuine let alone what that meant. In the end it meant we were being told by the Yanks to throw money and troops into W. Germany and it was time to see whether you could find a nuclear bunker in under 4 minutes. East Germany was suddenly a very unknown quantity and all sorts of assumptions were completely wrong.
 

nickm

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I literally said "if you were in her shoes", not all Germans would have had the same exposure to the camps of course. The point I am trying to make is that the majority of these people were not born evil and that many were pretty respectable individuals before the regime, they did horrendous things that defy imagination of course.
Individual responsibility still exists in those circumstances, it's why 'I was only following orders' was rejected as a defence in the Nuremberg trials.
 

Peter van der Gea

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We put people like her on trial to reduce the chance of today's 18 year olds following in her footsteps. Far too many nazis running around these days to be blase about letting that genie out of the bottle.
I'd say that a fair number of 18's if given the chance to commit war crimes over their preferred ideal would happily do it if the only punishment came 78 years later
 

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I'd say that a fair number of 18's if given the chance to commit war crimes over their preferred ideal would happily do it if the only punishment came 78 years later
Not sure the type that would commit war crimes so willingly are that arsed about life so living to 96 is probably a punishment in itself to them.
 

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No way she didn't know what was going on and I very much doubt that she had no choice. When you make bad choices age doesn't give you a free pass. Assuming she is fit to stand trial and she is then found guilty her age will be taken in to account when sentencing
 

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I agree, a lot were allowed to get away, what this case does is remind me not just of the dictatorships as you mention but the governments of our own countries such as the UK keeping soldiers who there is no doubt in the public mind have killed illegally in many instances particularly in Northern Ireland and Iraq and Afghanistan protected from prosecution. The UK government isn't just protecting the small cogs either. We've a lot to be ashamed of in the UK too and there were atrocities committed during WWII also. Hopefully one day before they are allowed to die in their beds like Thatcher did the rest should be shamed in public and sentenced while still aware of what's going on.
That would be great but somehow I doubt it. Don't think even one of them will ever publicly named and shamed.
 

oates

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That would be great but somehow I doubt it. Don't think even one of them will ever publicly named and shamed.
Our capacity for believing a group or groups of people once every few years and then being lied to and conned during those few years knows no bounds, but I remain optimistic that one day humans will catch themselves on.

To believe there's no hope would mean losing the will to bother even posting on social media about changing life for the better in some small ways.
 

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No one was forced to work in the concentration camps, all positions were voluntary. Especially for civilians, you'd apply for the job like any other job. As for if she knew? This was 43, not 33.
Most people at the time, either civilian or military had no idea of the existence of the death camps and certainly no idea of the mass murder that was happening within them. They were kept secret for pretty obvious reasons.

The positions, especially military, were not just voluntary (few things in any military really are). Some people were asked to volunteer without being told what it is they were actually volunteering for, and then refused transfers once they were there.
 

oates

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Most people at the time, either civilian or military had no idea of the existence of the death camps and certainly no idea of the mass murder that was happening within them. They were kept secret for pretty obvious reasons.

The positions, especially military, were not just voluntary (few things in any military really are). Some people were asked to volunteer without being told what it is they were actually volunteering for, and then refused transfers once they were there.
Maybe you have me on ignore, no matter, maybe someone else will tell you again that what you are saying simply isn't true.

The German people, including Austrians believed or liked to initially that the camps were for re-education but eventually became fully aware of their activities. Some simple Googling would help you understand this.
 

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Most people at the time, either civilian or military had no idea of the existence of the death camps and certainly no idea of the mass murder that was happening within them. They were kept secret for pretty obvious reasons.

The positions, especially military, were not just voluntary (few things in any military really are). Some people were asked to volunteer without being told what it is they were actually volunteering for, and then refused transfers once they were there.
That's not true. This myth has been debunked (read up Gellately on that.)
Not everybody was totally aware what exactly was going on. But for the majority of people it was crystal clear that nothing good happened with the deported Jews.

Even children were aware of the killings. (You know, there were concentration camps within Germany itself - impossible to keep the killing a secret.)
There was for example one concentration camp where the new "inhabitants" were guided through the main street of the village.
Another camp was next to a public bath. But, there were also public announcements of the concentration camps in German newspapers. (Some were praised as a boost for the local economy.) Sometimes, even in Cologne, there were executions in public space.

I do not want to derail it too much. But, the public support for the politics against the Jews was immense at that time. The hatred for Jews was everpresent. And many people profitted by stealing from them etc. Probably many thought that the Jews were criminal by nature and they got punished in the camps.
 

Kentonio

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Maybe you have me on ignore, no matter, maybe someone else will tell you again that what you are saying simply isn't true.

The German people, including Austrians believed or liked to initially that the camps were for re-education but eventually became fully aware of their activities. Some simple Googling would help you understand this.
I've spent well over 30 years reading about the holocaust and the nazis rise to power, so I think I'll skip the googling thanks. Also not sure why you'd think I'd have you on ignore?

The idea that Germans and Austrians all knew about the death camps is totally not supported by the history. The Nazi leadership were completely aware of the monstrosity of what they were doing and went to extreme lengths to keep their sick activities under cover to protect themselves. This is very well documented.

Remember we're talking about a time where communication was extremely limited, the press was under the strictest of censorship and the state was running a harsh program of secret police. They were training schoolchildren to denounce anyone (including their parents) who spoke out against the regime.

There's a reason the camps were usually build in rural areas and often outside Germany. People who did witness what was happening there were certainly not running around telling everyone they met about what they'd seen, because they would have ended up being imprisoned or killed themselves for anti-government speech.

None of this is intended to give the German people a free pass. The Nazis were only able to take power through the complicity of the German people, and huge numbers of them held fairly sympathetic views anyway. But if we're going to stay historical and not just plunge into modern revisionism, then it's important to remember exactly what life was actually like there at the time. People were not free to just pick and choose, and walk away freely from things they didn't like. Even the process of saying you didn't want to do something would have been very dangerous. This was a fascist state in wartime, there's few places more daunting.
 

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I've spent well over 30 years reading about the holocaust and the nazis rise to power, so I think I'll skip the googling thanks. Also not sure why you'd think I'd have you on ignore?

The idea that Germans and Austrians all knew about the death camps is totally not supported by the history. The Nazi leadership were completely aware of the monstrosity of what they were doing and went to extreme lengths to keep their sick activities under cover to protect themselves. This is very well documented.

Remember we're talking about a time where communication was extremely limited, the press was under the strictest of censorship and the state was running a harsh program of secret police. They were training schoolchildren to denounce anyone (including their parents) who spoke out against the regime.

There's a reason the camps were usually build in rural areas and often outside Germany. People who did witness what was happening there were certainly not running around telling everyone they met about what they'd seen, because they would have ended up being imprisoned or killed themselves for anti-government speech.

None of this is intended to give the German people a free pass. The Nazis were only able to take power through the complicity of the German people, and huge numbers of them held fairly sympathetic views anyway. But if we're going to stay historical and not just plunge into modern revisionism, then it's important to remember exactly what life was actually like there at the time. People were not free to just pick and choose, and walk away freely from things they didn't like. Even the process of saying you didn't want to do something would have been very dangerous. This was a fascist state in wartime, there's few places more daunting.
I'm 59 years old, I've spent most of my life trying to understand all of this. The reason I wondered if you had me on ignore is that you had made a similar post and I had responded before.

My own father admitted that they knew and he was brought up in a small town in Voralberg. He would say that they would see and hear of people - jews being taken. Where did they go? Where were the trains going? News would come from people supplying camps and the soldiers with food and equipment, rumours were rife but eventually we knew.

Word of mouth was faster and farther than possibly you realise or are willing to believe.
 

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That's not true. This myth has been debunked (read up Gellately on that.)
Not everybody was totally aware what exactly was going on. But for the majority of people it was crystal clear that nothing good happened with the deported Jews.

Even children were aware of the killings. (You know, there were concentration camps within Germany itself - impossible to keep the killing a secret.)
There was for example one concentration camp where the new "inhabitants" were guided through the main street of the village.
Another camp was next to a public bath. But, there were also public announcements of the concentration camps in German newspapers. (Some were praised as a boost for the local economy.) Sometimes, even in Cologne, there were executions in public space.

I do not want to derail it too much. But, the public support for the politics against the Jews was immense at that time. The hatred for Jews was everpresent. And many people profitted by stealing from them etc. Probably many thought that the Jews were criminal by nature and they got punished in the camps.
I specifically said 'death camps' rather than just camps (despite plenty of death happening in them all of course) to highlight the difference between the camps created or modified to facilitate mass industrialized murder from those intended for long term inhuman incarceration. The latter were of course very well known, as the Nazis propagandized around them heavily. The extermination camps however were absolutely not publicly shown, and were considered a state secret. The top level Nazis were very aware of the consequences that would befall them should they lose the war and these atrocity be revealed.

As you rightly point out, murders of Jews were not really uncommon and the German people (to be fair most European people) were wildly anti-Semitic at the time. Although most Germans were not aware that millions of Jews were being exterminated, it also doesn't mean they were blameless.
 

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I'm 59 years old, I've spent most of my life trying to understand all of this. The reason I wondered if you had me on ignore is that you had made a similar post and I had responded before.

My own father admitted that they knew and he was brought up in a small town in Voralberg. He would say that they would see and hear of people - jews being taken. Where did they go? Where were the trains going? News would come from people supplying camps and the soldiers with food and equipment, rumours were rife but eventually we knew.

Word of mouth was faster and farther than possibly you realise or are willing to believe.
No, I can certainly believe that the rumours spread, and that people knew something was going on. I'm not convinced they all knew (and certainly not convinced that they all believed) that a program of mass industrialized extermination was actually happening. It wasn't until the photographs and videos started being publicized that many people in the Allied countries really believed the scale of the atrocities after the war, so I'd find it extremely hard to believe that Germans themselves (especially the large numbers who were actually sympathetic to Nazism) would have believed it.

I'm trying to be very specific here by the way. I'm talking about the unimaginable scale of mass industrialized murder, not just the fact that the state was imprisoning in inhuman conditions and often arbitrarily executing Jews. The latter was pretty obvious to everyone after the events of Kristallnacht and what followed.
 

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As you rightly point out, murders of Jews were not really uncommon and the German people (to be fair most European people) were wildly anti-Semitic at the time. Although most Germans were not aware that millions of Jews were being exterminated, it also doesn't mean they were blameless.
Even if that were true, there is word of mouth, gossip and plain human logic. So at the end, you can put two and two together.

Germany was one of the most modern countries in that time. That includes the media, highly efficient transport and communications systems. There was a high literacy in the population. It was also quite densely populated and also highly organized (where there are two Germans there is a club).

EDIT: Okay, yeah I mean maybe... they were not aware of what was going on in Ausschwitz and the likes... but, yeah... I'll give you that. (But that would be a very specific "we didn't know".)
 

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No, I can certainly believe that the rumours spread, and that people knew something was going on. I'm not convinced they all knew (and certainly not convinced that they all believed) that a program of mass industrialized extermination was actually happening. It wasn't until the photographs and videos started being publicized that many people in the Allied countries really believed the scale of the atrocities after the war, so I'd find it extremely hard to believe that Germans themselves (especially the large numbers who were actually sympathetic to Nazism) would have believed it.

I'm trying to be very specific here by the way. I'm talking about the unimaginable scale of mass industrialized murder, not just the fact that the state was imprisoning in inhuman conditions and often arbitrarily executing Jews. The latter was pretty obvious to everyone after the events of Kristallnacht and what followed.
You cannot keep a secret that big but you can stop people from talking about it openly.
 

sun_tzu

The Art of Bore
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Aug 23, 2010
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Still waiting for the Youthquake
That said, a secretary feels a bit like we're scraping the barrel on Nazis still living.
I guess the key comes down to what did a secretary do in that organisation?

Were they there to answer the phone and file papers or did they function more like PA to the camp commander and for example help organise logistics (live bodies in, dead bodies disposal)

In that respect a trial seems the right move to help establish their role in order to then determine what if any punishment is appropriate (with of course with the overriding principal of innocent till proven guilty)

I will be honest and say I have no idea exactly what duties she carried out and therefore no opinion other than a trial seems the logical next step (provided she is fit for such a trial which I believe has been established by medical assessment)
 

UweBein

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Not for reasons of comparison.
But, I hope no one will be suprised when it is revealed what is going on in Chinese re-education camps!