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Former SS hit man given life sentence

AFP · 23 Mar 2010, 12:04

Published: 23 Mar 2010 09:51 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Mar 2010 12:04 GMT+01:00

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A German court sentenced Heinrich Boere to life imprisonment for killing in cold blood pharmacist Fritz Bicknese, bicycle shop owner Teunis de Groot and Frans-Willem Kusters.

"These were murders that were carried out on a totally random basis," said presiding Judge Gerd Nohl in the western city of Aachen.

On several occasions, Boere, now wheelchair-bound and living in a nursing home in Germany, and who has spent six decades one step ahead of the law, has admitted to the murders.

"Yes, I got rid of them," he told Focus magazine in 2008. "It was not difficult. You just had to bend a finger ... Bang! Dead!"

But he says that as a member of an SS commando unit tasked with killing suspected resistance members or supporters, he risked being sent to a concentration camp if he refused.

Born in Eschweiler, Germany, to a Dutch father and German mother, his family moved to the Netherlands when Boere was two. He volunteered for the Waffen SS in 1940 and fought on the Eastern Front before returning in 1943.

Taken prisoner of war in 1945, Boere spent time in different POW camps before escaping in June 1947, according to a statement made to the court. He then moved back to Germany in 1954 and worked as a coal miner until 1976.

He was sentenced to death in absentia in Amsterdam in 1949. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

The Netherlands attempted to have Boere extradited in the 1980s, but failed after a German court ruled that there was a possibility he may have German citizenship. Germany as a rule does not extradite its citizens.

His Dutch citizenship was revoked after the war and his application for German nationality – which he claims he was promised when he joined the Waffen SS – was refused.

In 2003 the Dutch authorities made a successful application for Boere to serve out his life sentence in Germany, but the ruling was overturned.

German prosecutors then charged him, only for a court to declare him unfit for trial. But this ruling too was overturned by a higher court.

Boere's defence lawyers argued that as a result of his 1949 conviction, even though he escaped all punishment, the trial in Aachen in western German was null and void because of double jeopardy.

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Failing that, they argued Boere should serve a much lighter term of seven years.

Since the Nuremberg trials after the war, where several top Nazi officials were sentenced to death, German authorities have examined more than 25,000 cases but the vast majority never came to court.

But now, as the suspected war criminals approach their nineties, there has been a minor flurry of arrests and court cases.

In the most high-profile, 89-year-old John Demjanjuk went on trial in Munich last November on charges of assisting in the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp, where prosecutors say he was a guard.

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Your comments about this article

10:50 March 23, 2010 by William Thirteen
what a charming fellow....
13:10 March 23, 2010 by dcgi
Not much of a life sentence, too little, too late.
15:51 March 23, 2010 by magdelana
Revenge never end's. Who Is vengefull here!!
17:54 March 23, 2010 by jennieerin73
magdalana -- it's called justice, you awful person
18:15 March 23, 2010 by dbert4
Yes but he be a fasinating to talk to or interview.
04:45 March 24, 2010 by wenddiver
Never forget, but way past time we all forgive. This continual round of harrassing old men is disgusting. I am sure nobody is proud of what happened during the Second World War, but that generation made some very solid contributions to the peace after-wards.

As an American, I think it way past time that we forgive and issue a blanket pardon to these old men, that goes for crimes committed under the Communists too.

Time to move on.
11:51 March 24, 2010 by Prufrock2010
As an American, do you also believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, John Yoo, Jay Bibey, et al deserve blanket pardons for their crimes against humanity? Is it time to move on from those atrocities, too?
14:41 March 24, 2010 by Scuba Steve
Sorry Wenddiver, but the kind of crimes these guys did should have no statute of limitations or pardons. Especially when (as is apparent in this case) there is no remorse on the part of the perpetrator. Spending their last years lonely in prison is nothing compared to the misery they inflicted. They should be looking over their shoulder until they're planted.
15:27 March 24, 2010 by dbert4
No "wenddiver" is right, there are bigger fish to fry. They should be using those resource to hunt down the present day, "criminals against humanity". Start with the financial sector and end with the Israeli government.
05:29 March 25, 2010 by MunchingInMuenchen
Yeah, sure -- let's let the proud, remorseless SS hit man go free, but hunt down those terrible jews. Echo's of 1940 Germany.... Adolph would love you dbert!
15:29 March 25, 2010 by dbert4
@MunchingInMuenchen - The point is there are modern day perpetrators, let's go after them. No one is talking about, "Jews". I'm talking about the modern Israeli government acting like Nazis with their behavior in the Palestinian territories, Adolph would be proud of the Israelis! They've kept the Warsaw ghetto thing going for 40 years in Palestine.
01:17 March 26, 2010 by MunchingInMuenchen
Ah, the wonders of a selective memory… it seems that the other protagonists in this little nightmare have slipped your mind dilbert, such as the PLO, Hamas, and Hizbullah. So let¦#39;s review the facts, shall we? In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. Then, as now, Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders. When Israel withdrew completely from Gaza, displacing hundreds of Jewish settlements, did the Arab community unite and facilitate the two-state solution by acting responsibly and peacefully? No, they rained down a hail of rockets on Israeli towns and cities, and still do. But let¦#39;s skip over those trivialities and focus all of the blame on just one side, because that¦#39;s really constructive.

Those who think that the continued Arab enmity toward Israel is a product of Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence. The attacks against Israel began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel's independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria.

Achieving peace will require courage and candor from both sides, and not only from the Israeli side. The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: "Enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land, and we are prepared to live beside Israel in true peace." Then and only then will the potential of a Palestinian State be realized.
13:48 March 26, 2010 by DantesHeaven
11:51 March 24, 2010 by Prufrock2010 posted "As an American, do you also believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, John Yoo, Jay Bibey, et al deserve blanket pardons for their crimes against humanity? Is it time to move on from those atrocities, too?"

What are you smoking?? Please point us all to the news reports of any of these people being tried and convicted in any internationally recogized court of such crimes...

To the others who say it's time to forgive I disagree...Murder is not a crime which should be forgiven just because it happened many years in the past
14:52 March 26, 2010 by dbert4

" Please point us all to the news reports of any of these people being tried and convicted in any internationally recogized court of such crimes..."

The point is that most of the truly guilty have never been tried, and wrongfully probably never will because of double standards that exist.

The "winners" and friends of the winners are forgiven, "fog of war" and all that sheit.
06:27 March 27, 2010 by wenddiver
The usefullness of hunting down old men, who killed people in war time 60 years later is questionable at best.

The comments about Bush and Chenney tend to minimize the offence of real war crimminals and are on the surface rediculous. I may not like these two myself, but from the point that Sadam announced that he was pursueing weapons of Mass Destruction the Allied Nations that were in a state of Armistice, not peace with Iraqi forces, had the right to dis-arm them and did.

As to the pukey Palestinians, they have repeatedly attacked Israel and exported Soviet taught terror around the world, instead of fighting militarily for their independence, this re-inforces the intrenational communities opinion that they are not worthy of independence. Their dispicable actions doom their cause.
07:47 March 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010

These men have not been indicted or tried in the U.S. because Obama, out of political concerns, instructed his attorney general not to pursue indictments. That's my point exactly. Political expediency has prevented these war criminals and admitted (even proud) perpetrators of atrocities against humanity to remain free, despite America's constitutional obligation to prosecute them pursuant to its obligations under the Geneva Conventions.


You may be the last person on the planet who still buys that B.S. WMD argument to justify Bush's war. How many thousands of innocent persons have died as a result of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld illegal war that was sold on demonstrable lies? However heinous that was, it pales in comparison to the torture engaged in by the U.S. since, torture that places the men I mentioned squarely in the category of the "real war criminals" you so blithely allude to.

If Obama doesn't have the balls to allow them to be indicted and tried, they should be hauled before the Hague by prosecutors who are not afraid to vindicate the human rights of the victims.
09:27 March 27, 2010 by readnow
'It was easy .... you just pull the trigger.' How cold blooded is that? No pity for him or anyone his age, people should pay for the crimes they have committed. Especially those from the Nazi era!!!!!!!
20:24 March 28, 2010 by wenddiver
OK go on continue to fight, it's the European way.

At some point you have to stop fighting and truely make peace, not just stop killing temporarily.

During the US Civil War, we burned cities, hung each others Guerillas, starved each other in sieges and engaged in every barbarity of war. That said, twenty years later we were doing veteran's re-unions together, and twenty-five years later a former Confederate General was leading all the Federal Calvery in the Spanish-American war.

At some point you have to put away the sword, but just as important, somebody has to put out their hand in friendship and make up.

If you have to continue this hate go ahead, but you have no support from US veterans. It is time to forgive Germany and Japan and move on.
21:55 March 28, 2010 by Rhett
How disgusting, to take an old man from a nursing home to serve a life sentence in another nursing home. It is stupid revenge, and it says a lot more about his pursuers than it does about the old man. And what the Germans and Jews have done, and are doing, to that simple man, John Demjanjuk, is CRIMINAL, Shame!
23:31 March 28, 2010 by Talonx
MunchinginMünchen, so are you saying that because 'they started it' genocidal tendencies are pardonable? Additionally, the partition plan mirrored the 1938 Munich Conference in the sense that the people on the land were not consulted about a 'partition', had they maybe even just attempted to start a discussion with local populations things might have worked out a bit differently. Regardless, the only developed nation with a government further to the Right than the US is Israel and you would be insane to say, 'what are you taling about'. I understand that it's hard to tell on these boards whether someone is an antisemite or not (alot of the Foxnews crowd seems to be coming here), but I nor dbert are antisemitic. We are antinationalist.

To the point, I think that jailing someone is vindictive no matter how you look at it. Resources are better spent on giving people a humanistic education to begin with and psychological treatment tends to be cheaper and mrore productive. But if you are ok with jailing at all, then these old men shouldn't be special exceptions, considering small time drug dealers will probably spend more time in jail than this guy (given his age).
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