Recent trials of Nazi war criminals leads to age-controversy

Germany is seeing a large increase in trials of Nazi war criminals due to a group of prosecutors that has been hunting down everyone who was employed at Auschwitz during WWII. Currently, a 91-year-old German radio operator is being tried on 260,000 charges of accessory to murder for all of the Jewish people that she indirectly sent to Auschwitz. Earlier this year, a 93-year-old former bookkeeper was sentenced to four years in prison in a similar case.

In Germany, there has been a rise in such prosecutions including that of a 94-year-old guard who was tried for 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and the previously mentioned bookkeeper convicted of 300,000 counts. Such a controversial issue has sparked international intrigue as some think that society should continue to hunt any and all former Nazi personnel while others believe that only the former Nazi officials should be tried.

Luke Moore, a 10th grade student who holds this opinion, said that he believed “Only the major officials should be tried,”  saying that, “It happened in the past and while it was horrible, it is still in the past.”

His brother, sophomore Jacob Moore, agreed with him and added, “It is not worth the time or money to hunt down every last person involved.”

Still, others believe that former Nazi underlings should be forgiven for their involvement with the atrocities. With such diverse opinions on the issue, it is not surprising that the public is so divided on the topic.

Former Nazi bookkeeper faces trial at 98
Former Nazi bookkeeper faces trial at 98

The sentences these war criminals can face range from three to fifteen years in prison. The controversy over  sentencing 90+year-old people to crimes committed in their youth stems from the fact that many would not survive a jail sentence. However, there is a precedent for such proceedings as there have been multiple people sentenced to jail time at an old age recently.

One of the reasons this issue has gained so much notoriety is because the Holocaust was one of the largest tragedies in human history. According to Dictionary.com, before the Nazis the word holocaust was defined as a massive killing of people, especially through fire or through reckless invasion in the context of the holocaust of a city or town. However, after The Holocaust, the word is specifically tied to World War II.

Because of controversial nature of this issue, there are some very intense internet discussions on this topic. People argue their sides with good points and passion.

Although some students did not want to be named, all agreed that major war criminals should be tried no matter how long ago their crimes were committed. The majority of students asked said that the workers and people who were “just following orders” should not be tried unless they directly participated in the genocide.

These prosecutors are bringing back a frightful past for a lot of people. With many diverse and changing opinions this topic is history in the making. In addition, the victims’ families and the survivors have first hand knowledge of what happened, but also have differing opinions. What many are still wondering is if this will bring closure to the families of the dead, or reopen old scars for the survivors.

By: Sean Dashiell

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