Nazi concentration camp secretary trial

oates

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Yeah thats fair.
I've taken on board what you've said, I believe you have made the effort to know what you are talking about, I think they do contrast a bit with my own knowledge but I'll keep an open mind and keep learning.
 

UweBein

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I guess we can expect the info from Guantanamo a couple of decades before the Chinese info though right?
During my lifetime? Probably not ;-)
But in any case, if someone asked, I could not possibly say.... I did not know that - or that has never crossed my mind.
 

markhughes

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I guess we can expect the info from Guantanamo a couple of decades before the Chinese info though right?
I wouldn't worry about that happening anytime soon, I mean the Americans are responsible for one of the worst war crimes in history (nuclear war) but then we don't persecute the winners.
 

Kentonio

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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".)
It is a very specific thing, but its kind of necessary here due to the historical period. Concentration camps in general weren't a nazi invention and dislocating and imprisoning large numbers of people wasn't that uncommon. It's the industralized genocide that made the Nazis really stand out amongst the ranks of absolute bastardness that was shockingly common around that period.
 

stevoc

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And Solskjær has won it!
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.
I hope you're right mate.
 

NotThatSoph

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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.
The refused transfer part is highly, highly disputed I think. And even though what exactly went on in the death camps, the Germans all knew that the Jews (and other people) were being hounded up, arrested and relocated. They knew it wasn't a vacation. They might not have known about Treblinka and the particulars, but they knew people were dying en masse.

Take Ravensbrück, for instance. A pretty "ordinary" camp, noteworthy for being the only camp exclusively for women. Not a death camp, but out of 130k prisoners almost half of them died, and there was torture, medical experiments, starvation, slave labour and a gas chamber. This is the place that started the career of basically all of the infamous female torturers. How did the SS hire these women? They advertised in the papers. They didn't say what the job was, but they did once the applicants arrived and those who didn't like it were free to leave. Those who stayed, and many did, did so because they wanted to do the job. This isn't an isolated incident, just an example of how things worked.

For Ravensbrück to have been a secret then the people who were fine with torture would have to keep their mouths shut about the thing they thought was fine, and the people who saw what was going on and were horrified by the torture and killing would also have to not tell anyone even though they were under no pressure by the SS to shut up. This just isn't feesible, people knew.

Further, from Doris Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust:

Germans were not forced to be killers. Those who refused to participate were given other assignments or transferred. To this day no one has found an example of a German who was executed for refusing to take part in the killing of Jews or other civilians. Defense attorneys of people accused of war crimes have looked hard for such a case because it would support the claim that their clients had no choice. The Nazi system, however, did not work that way. There were enough willing perpetrators so that coercive force could be reserved for those deemed enemies.
Then you have the table @nimic posted earlier showing practically no consequences for refusing to murder civilians. We know that refusing to participate in the Jozefow massacre came with no negative consequences. etc., etc. It is very, very hard to find any example of Germans being punished by more than hampered career opportunities for simply refusing to partcipate in war crimes.
 

Kentonio

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The refused transfer part is highly, highly disputed I think. And even though what exactly went on in the death camps, the Germans all knew that the Jews (and other people) were being hounded up, arrested and relocated. They knew it wasn't a vacation. They might not have known about Treblinka and the particulars, but they knew people were dying en masse.

Take Ravensbrück, for instance. A pretty "ordinary" camp, noteworthy for being the only camp exclusively for women. Not a death camp, but out of 130k prisoners almost half of them died, and there was torture, medical experiments, starvation, slave labour and a gas chamber. This is the place that started the career of basically all of the infamous female torturers. How did the SS hire these women? They advertised in the papers. They didn't say what the job was, but they did once the applicants arrived and those who didn't like it were free to leave. Those who stayed, and many did, did so because they wanted to do the job. This isn't an isolated incident, just an example of how things worked.

For Ravensbrück to have been a secret then the people who were fine with torture would have to keep their mouths shut about the thing they thought was fine, and the people who saw what was going on and were horrified by the torture and killing would also have to not tell anyone even though they were under no pressure by the SS to shut up. This just isn't feesible, people knew.

Further, from Doris Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust:



Then you have the table @nimic posted earlier showing practically no consequences for refusing to murder civilians. We know that refusing to participate in the Jozefow massacre came with no negative consequences. etc., etc. It is very, very hard to find any example of Germans being punished by more than hampered career opportunities for simply refusing to partcipate in war crimes.
Jozefow is quite a unique case because its one of the only documented incidents (perhaps the only one) of a commander offering this troops the free option to opt out without sanction. One of the things you see a lot is that people didn't feel they had a way to refuse. Germany was at war, living under an extremely dictatorial state, and expressing that what was being done was actively wrong would be seen as criticism of the state and leadership itself, something that was extremely dangerous. Even something like reassignment isn't just an easy option when that reassignment could mean being sent to a front line posting on the Russian front for instance.

It's not that Germans didn't know horrible thing were happening, and many, many of them were absolutely complicit in those atrocities. But it's too easy to just paint people from a totally different era with too broad a brush. This isn't about trying to make excuses for them or gloss over anything that happened, but if we want to actually understand how this stuff actually happened (to hopefully avoid it ever happening again) its important to consider all aspects.
 

Denis79

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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.
They might not have known the exact details but they knew that the deported were treated inhumanly and with cruelty.
 

Kentonio

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They might not have known the exact details but they knew that the deported were treated inhumanly and with cruelty.
Absolutely. At the same time however people in countries like England and France were perfectly aware that the people in the colonies were being treated like subhumans. In the US people were perfectly aware that black people were still being treated like practical slaves. This is why I think its important to view events within their historical context. The Holocaust was so vile and extreme that it was shocking even by the standards of its day, and should certainly be treated as an absolutely critical event. The issue with starting to look quite a bit further down the morality scale however is that most of the world was treating different races and cultures like complete shit. Doesn't mean we can't condemn it of course, but we should at least understand that it was far less uncommon than it is today.
 

That_Bloke

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While I personally have little doubt that she certainly must have known what happened in the camp at some point, due to her position, and thus probably guilty of accessory to murder, I think that a lot of people are being too much trigger happy about her.

One shouldn't forget that she was born and raised in a desperate country that went into madness after the WWI sanctions, allowing the absolute scum of Earth to take over an otherwise culturally and scientifically brilliant nation. A totalitarian state has a knack at bringing the worst out of otherwise 'normal' people, even if they don't share the ideology, and most of them are complicit by just not wanting to know and/or simply too afraid of the consequences. The constant brainwashing about the so-called Aryan race began at a very young age, the Hitler Jugend, which no kid could really escape, took its toll on a good chunk of the population, and it is fair to say that none of us can know with certainty how they would've acted or thought if they lived in that period.

Was she a convinced Nazi, who happily took the fantastic job of indirectly helping the systematic extermination people who were only guilty of being just who they were, or just a 18 years old female teenager trying to make a living in a time of war without really knowing beforehand what she was getting into? And then finding out and either not wanting or being able to get out of it? It's not like 'death camp' was written in capital letters in the front door of the Stutthof and outside the circle, nobody really knew what was exactly happening behind those doors, although there were most certainly (pressing) rumors in the surrounding villages.

I'm not condoning or excusing her actions in any way, just trying to put some perspective to the people who want her dead or rot away in a cell. I think that she should be brought to trial (if medically possible), judged and be confronted to what she did and then symbolically sentenced (which means no real prison), if found guilty. In this case, the knowledge of what she's done must already have been one hell of a punishment these last 80 years. Bigger fish have escaped due to partly complacency and partly to a pragmatic view, as you couldn't sentence everyone who was implicated or you wouldn't have enough qualified people to run the country, especially with 3.5 million soldiers and 3.5 million civilians dead. Not to mention the convinced Nazis scientists who were poached by the Allies and even rewarded for their efforts. I simply find it inconsistent to harshly punish the small, old fry while bigger fish escaped trial and lived a long and happy life ever after, as it always is and we see it to this very day.
 
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NotThatSoph

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While I personally have little doubt that she certainly must have known what happened in the camp at some point, due to her position, and thus probably guilty of accessory to murder, I think that a lot of people are being too much trigger happy about her.

One shouldn't forget that she was born and raised in a desperate country that went into madness after the WWI sanctions, allowing the absolute scum of Earth to take over an otherwise culturally and scientifically brilliant nation. A totalitarian state has a knack at bringing the worst out of otherwise 'normal' people, even if they don't share the ideology, and most of them are complicit by just not wanting to know and/or simply too afraid of the consequences. The constant brainwashing about the so-called Aryan race began at a very young age, the Hitler Jugend, which no kid could really escape, took its toll on a good chunk of the population, and it is fair to say that none of us can know with certainty how they would've acted or thought if they lived in that period.

Was she a convinced Nazi, who happily took the fantastic job of indirectly helping the systematic extermination people who were only guilty of being just who they were, or just a 18 years old female teenager trying to make a living in a time of war without really knowing beforehand what she was getting into? And then finding out and either not wanting or being able to get out of it? It's not like 'death camp' was written in capital letters in the front door of the Stutthof and outside the circle, nobody really knew what was exactly happening behind those doors, although there were most certainly (pressing) rumors in the surrounding villages.

I'm not condoning or excusing her actions in any way, just trying to put some perspective to the people who want her dead or rot away in a cell. I think that she should be brought to trial (if medically possible), judged and be confronted to what she did and then symbolically sentenced (which means no real prison), if found guilty. In this case, the knowledge of what she's done must already have been one hell of a punishment these last 80 years. Bigger fish have escaped due to partly complacency and partly to a pragmatic view, as you couldn't sentence everyone who was implicated or you wouldn't have enough qualified people to run the country, especially with 3.5 million soldiers and 3.5 million civilians dead. Not to mention the convinced Nazis scientists who were poached by the Allies and even rewarded for their efforts. I simply find it inconsistent to harshly punish the small, old fry while bigger fish escaped trial and lived a long and happy life ever after.
It looks like you have decided the answer to that question already.
 

NotThatSoph

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You're envisioning that even if she is an ideologically committed nazi, she has spent the last 80 years together with her SS husband tormenting herself for her role in carrying out the nazi ideology?

I'd think it's a very real possibility that the knowledge of what she has done isn't a punishment at all.
 

That_Bloke

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You're envisioning that even if she is an ideologically committed nazi, she has spent the last 80 years together with her SS husband tormenting herself for her role in carrying out the nazi ideology?

I'd think it's a very real possibility that the knowledge of what she has done isn't a punishment at all.
What I did was expressing my opinion and trying to bring some nuance in the debate. While it'd be easier to call for her head, comfortably sitting on my chair and having 80 years worth of hindsight, it's not up to me to decide what the 'right' sentence should be, since I'm no judge. For all I know I could be completely wrong, but I refuse to go for the throat with my limited knowledge and experience about what she actually did and under which circumstances. I like justice, not vengeance.
 

NotThatSoph

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What I did was expressing my opinion and trying to bring some nuance in the debate. While it'd be easier to call for her head, comfortably sitting on my chair and having 80 years worth of hindsight. It's not up to me to decide what the 'right' sentence should be, since I'm no judge. For all I know I could be completely wrong, but I refuse to go for the throat with my limited knowledge and experience about what she actually did and under which circumstances. I like justice, not vengeance.
I don't see what any this has to do with it.

You asked a question, was she a "proper" nazi or was she swept into something both because of the propaganda and because of the secrecy. Ok, those are two real possibilities. Then, later, you say that the knowledge of what she has done must be one hell of a punishment. How do you know? Why do you think that? Maybe she doesn't care, maybe she's proud, maybe she thinks they were generally on the right track but the genocide was a bit much.

That has nothing to do with nuance or justice or vengeance or sentencing.
 

That_Bloke

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I don't see what any this has to do with it.

You asked a question, was she a "proper" nazi or was she swept into something both because of the propaganda and because of the secrecy. Ok, those are two real possibilities. Then, later, you say that the knowledge of what she has done must be one hell of a punishment. How do you know? Why do you think that? Maybe she doesn't care, maybe she's proud, maybe she thinks they were generally on the right track but the genocide was a bit much.

That has nothing to do with nuance or justice or vengeance or sentencing.
Then it was poorly argumented, I didn't make my point clear enough and that's on me.

I don't know if she did that because she either was a true Nazi or just got caught by events, and if she was one, I don't know how far she would go. I don't know how much of growing up and living her whole life in a totalitarian state and witnessing a fecking world war affected her judgement and/or screwed her vision of of the world. I don't really know what I personally would do if I lived in that era. She could either be one of most evil human beings who ever walked this Earth or a german Jane Doe way in over her head, who chose to look away because she didn't have the balls to stop being a part of one of the worst crimes human beings committed against other ones, and never gave it a real thought afterwards because it was just too painful to bear. The latter being more common than you might think and not everyone is a Hans or a Sophie Scholl.

I'm just saying that one shouldn't be too quick to judge, because none of us really knows what we would do if we were put under such extreme circumstances. I hope I have clarified my stance.
 
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e.cantona

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Bad judgement at best.. Guess she "deserve" the punishment. Bit late and why so late the only problem it seems.

That said, it is interesting. I’m not particularly anything, so I don’t know what I’d be if growing up under such circumstances. War between nations is still normal. WWI just behind you and whatever hardship surrounds you and yours. National newspapers and maybe radio the main/only source of information about the world growing up. And whatever books are available, if you can read. People aren’t as ignorant as medieval people, but not very far off.
 

VorZakone

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So you compare terrorists with the Uyghur?
Not everyone in Guantanamo is a terrorist, there were innocent people there. Besides, the Chinese will argue the same: they lock up Uyghurs to tackle the terrorist elements.
 

oates

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Always wondered how ordinary German people could accept some of the things that went on in their country and some of the ones they invaded and now I can see.