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Nazi death camp guard charged with murder

AFP · 28 Jul 2010, 17:00

Published: 28 Jul 2010 15:29 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Jul 2010 17:00 GMT+02:00

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Samuel Kunz, who has confessed to having worked at the Belzec extermination camp in German-occupied Poland in 1942-3, was informed of the charges last week, a spokesman for prosecutors in the western city of Dortmund told AFP.

He has also been charged over the deaths of another 10 Jews in two separate incidents which also allegedly occurred at Belzec, said the spokesman, Christoph Goeke.

He has been called as a witness in another Nazi war crimes trial, that of alleged death camp guard John Demjanjuk, 90, a Ukrainian-born former US auto worker deported to Munich from the United States last May.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization which helps track down Nazi war criminals, put Kunz at number three in its most wanted list last published in April.

Kunz, whose flat was raided by police in January, denied being personally involved in killing people, prosecutors said at the time of the raid.

A spokesman for a court in Bonn where the charges were filed said that Kunz was 88-years-old. Other reports have put his age at 89 or 90.

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

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But now, with many of the suspected war criminals in their nineties, there has been a flurry of arrests and court cases dealing with war-time atrocities, in what Nazi-hunters say is a welcome change of policy in Berlin.

The most high-profile case is that of Demjanjuk, whose trial began last November on charges of assisting in the murder of 27,900 people while allegedly a guard at the Sobibor death camp. He denies the charges.

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Your comments about this article

15:57 July 28, 2010 by Bushdiver
Who cares! This guy won't be around much longer anyway.
16:19 July 28, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
What a waste of time and money! It's over!
16:47 July 28, 2010 by chic-a-go
How about nabbing some officers for once? As with the Abu Ghraib guards, they're always willing to throw the foot soldiers in jail, but never those that ordered it or had more power to stop it.
16:59 July 28, 2010 by William Thirteen
as in most civilized countries, here in Germany the statue of limitations for murder is - never. would you have it otherwise?
17:11 July 28, 2010 by marimay
Could find something more productive to do with that money that's for sure.

But, some people love to live in the past.

I doubt a day goes by where this guy doesn't think about what he was a part of. And more likely than not, he was just trying to survive, himself.

Governments put normal good people in crappy immoral situations every day.

What is their fate 70 years from now?
17:19 July 28, 2010 by Canadianhaggis
I think it's time to move on.The few that are remaining are in their ninety's.When that generation is dead in a few years can we put this to rest once and for all ???
17:20 July 28, 2010 by marimay
Probably not.
18:03 July 28, 2010 by snorge
For all those of you who say "who cares" , "move on" and "forget the past", I bet if you lived in those times you would be singing a different tune. Ask your family who lived through this and see if they say "who cares" , "move on" and "forget the past". More than likely if they are German they might, but if they were anything other than German you can bet your ass they wouldn't be saying that...
22:37 July 28, 2010 by wxman
chic-a-go, they can't find any officers that are still alive, so they are going after guys who were 20 year old privates and corporals at the time. They know that this pursuit will be completely over in about 5 years, so they have to hurry up with these show trials while they can. I believe they feel like they were cheated by the grim reaper over the years. He took the higher ranking, truly responsible individuals before they could get their hands on them.
23:06 July 28, 2010 by mikecowler
He may be one of the lucky ones not hung but any money he has should be distrabuted to jewish charities and not to his family now..

Surely the German population is not so ignorant and realises that the guards who worked in these camps and even the Totenkopf ss troops were firstly just like any other law biding honest German citizen, who worked as butchers, bakers, bus/tram conductors taxi drivers etc..They made their choice believing the fuhrer and all his ideas..wanting the attension of the German citizens especially the women..

Also the smell When i was at school with my German cousins back in the 1970,s it was a subject nobody liked to talk about 13 years of German history ignored!! Frederick der Große was ok but Adolf Hitler a nicht nicht!!

In my mind the Third Reich,s Wehrmacht were gallant and brave soldiers on the front line...but the SS were cowards and most should of ended dangling by the kneck on the end of a rope...
23:24 July 28, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
snorge, my family was affected by the war. My fathers oldest brother was killed here in Germany. I saw how it affected my fathers family. What justice will be served by putting a man who was 22 years at the time of the war. What would you have done if you were in his shoes the? Try looking at this from another perspective. I am sure that anyone would have wanted to do what was in their thoughts to be patriotic even if it was misguided. None of us have said forget what happened or who cares... There was enough hate in that war for many generations. There are far bigger issues in the world to settle.
01:32 July 29, 2010 by mikecowler
My grandfather was in the Nazi Wehrmacht and served on the Russian front and saw many of his commerades die, before fleeing the Russian advance via Hungary and Austria and being captured by the Americans eventually, and after interogation and debriefing by the Americans his first permitted phone call to my Grandmother was to beg her to take my mother and uncle and travel deeper into West Germany, for fear of them ending up in the Russian zone..

He was an ordinary soldier who had marched in Gosslar on parade when Hitler was there, until finally carrying out orders to hold and defend the line while other units retreated..his house and family ended up 20km from the iron curtain thankfully in the British sector...after this he never ever went to West Berlin or into the then DDR as he was to frightened of the Russians getting him...The SS unit from Hungary that reached the Americans before them were captured and mostly handed back to the Russians!!

I,m sorry but all the volunteers who joined the SS all still played a major part in the attrocities, and should STILL be brought to justice... if it was my family persacuted, hunted down and sent to the gas chamber i would still want justice!!! Whole families (polish, hungarian, finnish etc) were wiped out under the scorched earth retreat policy, not just the camps, nothing of any use was left behind..The camp guards were cowards, filled with evil and never true soldiers, even on the retreating death marches from Latvia and Lithuania with British prisoners of war the guards tried to hide and mingle with the prisoners to avoid capture by the Russians...When captured these camp guards held no remorse..and wouldnt even appoligise to their captures so they deserved to be hung and to this day still do....
04:36 July 29, 2010 by Jasmine33
I know some would rather put all this with WWII and the nazis in the past, and it shouldn't be dwelled on indefinitely but learned from so as to not be repeated again. My father, an American, served in WWII and still remembers very gruesome things he saw. One incident very memorable to him was one day he and other soldiers came upon an abandoned building where some nazis had been just earlier. There they found a room with nurses, some American or otherwise, who had been held there by the nazis. He said some of the nurses were dead or nearly dead, half naked, bleeding and starved, and they saved who they could. No telling how long these nurses went through the hell they did from these inhumane whatever.

I'll always wonder how Hitler got ahold of people's minds to do the horrible things they did. Even though our family has quite a bit of German heritage, I'm not sure really what my father actually thinks of Germany. When I mention things I read about on this site he won't comment very much. There's just too much bad memories from the war. It's a shame.
09:00 July 29, 2010 by Essertpitay
I cannot believe some of the above comments. To talk about "moving on" and let the past be in the past is, as far as I am concerned, condoning what the nazis did.

They were Germans (such as Willy BRANDT) who stood up and saw very early the dangers of "national socialism". The problem was there were too few of them.

To use the excuse that that man was only 22 year old and was just obeying orders is accepting that somehow what happened was inevitable (I particular love when people use the argument that the "unfair" Versailles treaty was the source of nazism and WWII).

As one German once said while interviewed for the French documentary "La Shoah" : Hey ! I was only the engine driver !!!

Back to the people who made those very sorry comments on this thread : You are all potential "engine drivers" ! Shame on you./.
12:06 July 29, 2010 by mikecowler
@ Essertpitay

Look at it like this, you have a family, IN ANY COUNTRY...all your interested in is putting a roof over their heads and bread and water on to the table..you work as an ENGINE DRIVER!!!

Your then conscripted into the Army who puts more bread and water on the table...You see other soldiers in black uniforms who get more pay than you...there,s a vacancy DO YOU APPLY?

Also if you were to refuse conscription into the Army you would be thrown in prison...so who is going to care for your family..

This could happen to anyone if the dictatorship orders it!!! However to be a specialist volunteer in a death camp..to kill and rape men women and children volluntarily doesnt deserve to live no matter what age they were caught at...
14:03 July 29, 2010 by slippery777
Its too late and he is too old. His punishment is the fact that he has had to live with what he has done.

Once again there are German people making comments on here that are in denial!

What has your country done to arrest or investigate the deaths of 12 to 15 million Germans after the war had ended.

What was done to arrest or have brought to justice Russian soldiers who raped and murdered German women and children as young as 5.

What has it done to reclaim illegally taken land from innocent people by the Allies. Nothing, nothing at all. Instead it makes a big show hunting the odd Nazi thats still alive.

Its a shame that a once strong people have become gutless and weak, afraid to stand up for the rights of its own people. Shame on you!!
15:38 July 29, 2010 by William Thirteen
slippery ideas indeed....
15:59 July 29, 2010 by Essertpitay

The answer is : You stand up ! And many did and died because of their decision to fight the "beast".


I think I can safely speak on behalf of any russian and He would say something along these lines of : "The nazis started it !"

What the nazis did, The Germans will have to live with that legacy for generations to come. There is no prescription (in the legal sense of the term) on the matter.
17:35 July 29, 2010 by slippery777

Your a pretty sick person along with any Russian who thinks the retaliating by raping women and children is justified because " the Nazis started it".

I was born in England and though the Germans bombed our cities and towns, it still makes me and many others ashamed when we think of what the RAF did to Dresden.

The appalling atrocities of the Nazis was repeated again by the Russians which is truly abhorrent , and just like the Nazis they should have been brought to justice.

It was unfortunate that the Eastern European countries ended up with a worse tyrant that Hitler in the name of Joseph Stalin.

The German people have to live with the same legacy as the people in the Allied countries. The murder of millions of innocent civilians.

May I suggest you and some of the others on this page read - Berlin by Anthony Beevor for some insight into the atrocities waged upon the German civilians by the Red Army in 1945 onwards.

As for the 12 to 15 million that were killed, it has been called 'The hidden holocaust' for obvious reasons. It is about time that this subject received more attention from not only the German media but also from the politicians.

Germany needs to realise that these were victims as well and those who were forced from there homelands do have a right to return.
18:34 July 29, 2010 by Essertpitay

I knew this kind of reply would be coming.

In no way I am diminishing the atrocities committed by the russkies but whenever the holocaust is mentionned, there are smart alecs like you to bring other atrocities in the debate. A good old trick, usually used by people who deny the whole concept of the systematic and (very) efficient extermination operated by the nazis or who attempt to diminish the actual scale and impact on the varied populations (from jews to romanis) earmarked for "disappearance" .

I am always amazed when "Dresden" gets a mention. Is that all you guys have got ?

Somehow in the context of WWII, the words "Germany" and "victim" do not really go together./.
19:32 July 29, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
"Germany" and "victim" shouldn't go together, but "Allies" and "hypocrisy" certainly should.

Yes, what we did was terrible. But Stalin did far worse to his own people, in much greater numbers, and Japan to the Chinese, also in far greater numbers, and they've barely even so much as gotten a slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, Germany is still pressured into being a repentant, modest old man at every turn. The reason Germany gets all the attention is because our victims were 'civilized' and could write things down. My generation had nothing to do with the war and we're getting sick and tired of hearing about it constantly.
19:41 July 29, 2010 by mikecowler
It,s strange how Americans have commented on this subject...Settlers in America wiped out loads of tribes of native indians...pushing them away from fertile land, killing buffalo to make them move off the land until they either fought back and died by the gun or them and their families died from hunger and starvation...god bless america...cowboys and pilgrims may as well had been nazis? Suddetenland and east prussia will be given back to germany as soon as most of America is goven back to the Red Indians...dream on!
21:56 July 29, 2010 by slippery777

There is no denial from me, born in the UK, I come from a mixed background. German and Jewish from my mother, Irish from my Father. My wife is Jewish. I have no doubt about the holocaust, and its very difficult to deal with when one side of the family (German grandfather) is killing the other side of the family( his wife was Jewish). She escaped to the UK, he become an SS officer.

My wife and I have both been to Normandy and laid flowers not just at the Allies graves but also at the German. They, though I agree not all were soldiers not Nazis were ordinary men, from ordinary backgrounds, with families. Someones son, brother, husband and father.

Dresden is not all i've got but we could go on forever making lists. My wife and I hold no grudge against the Germans, no more than I hold a grudge against the English for starving the Irish to death during the potato famine.

Mike Cowler is right in what he says about the US, they had systematically killed Red Indians so that they could take their land. Australia, New Zealand, Canada all land stolen from its indigenous population. That the English for you. Just because we done it does not mean that anybody else can. Another book to read is 'I left my heart at Wounded Knee' an insight to American ethnic cleansing.

What we need to remember is to make sure it never happens again, that i'm afraid is wishful thinking.

One final point, not all the German population were Nazis, not even half. People will not in general kick up a fuss when the penalty could be the extermination of your family. So the average German was only guilty of being German, guilty by association so to say.
23:19 July 29, 2010 by wxman
@mikecowler, you need to brush up on your contemporary archeology. The discoveries of Kennewick Man in Washington state and another in New Mexico show that about 8-10,000 years ago, Caucasiod humans hunted and fished in these areas. Therefore, in all probability, they were wiped out by the Asian settlers who crossed the frozen Bering Strait sometime later. So actually, we were simply taking back OUR land.
11:07 July 30, 2010 by Essertpitay
@Der Grenadier

I think the Chinese are not sharing your point of view and they do remember ! But then again, here we are, changing subject matter; one mentions Uncle Joe and another one brings the "japs". Same old trick.

As I said there is no prescritption on remembering and reminding people of what took place. For generations to come.

It is almost you are criticizing the jewish people for having an education. Next you are going to tell me Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement is to blame !
13:55 July 30, 2010 by sarah chentov
I agree with snorge. There must be a justice. . But many people think only about themself...and dont care about suffring of others...
17:59 July 30, 2010 by michael4096
Therefore, in all probability, they were wiped out by the Asian settlers who crossed the frozen Bering Strait sometime later. So actually, we were sim…
I trust you jest.

However, many people do take this seriously and believe that poor kenny does, in some way, show that europeans (and their decendents) are the rightful masters of the american continent. There is plenty of good anti-native american hate on the internet for those impressed by this argument.


1. nobody has a clue what this guy's colour was so caucasoid is a misnomer

2. his bone structure resembled that of today's europeans, but if his ancestors had lived there for many thousands of years this would have occured naturally regardless of whatever bone structure they started with

3. his DNA indicates that his ancestors were more asian than european

4. prior to, say, 4000 years ago, it is extremely unlikely that any humanoid migrated to the american continent except via asia - it's too far

5. there is nothing to indicate that there was nobody living there when his ancestors arrived so who says they are the 'rightful' land owners

Mind you, if you are going to believe that your birth makes you in someway superior to others anyway, I guess facts won't stop you.
18:54 July 30, 2010 by snorge

I think you misunderstand the point I am making. You need to be in the shoes of those affected who were NOT German or Germans persecuted by Nazis (such as the Jews, Roma or undesirables...). They did not start this which affected 50 million and killed 10% of them all over the world. This is why they still hunt people like Death Camp Guard Samuel Kunz.

Case in point, how long has your family suffered with your Uncle's death? That in itself is a prison sentence in a very personal way. People who lost loved ones to German persecution deserve the right to trials of those who perpetrated them and the soldiers of today need to know this as well.

Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are held to these standards today. I personally have been in those shoes three times in Iraq... Did I shoot? Yes, I did, but when we got to him after he was unable to fight anymore he was turned in to let the system do it's job. Two were deemed innocent and released even though I knew better because I saw them doing the crime. However it turned out, justice was served and although we certainly could have finished the job right then and there. What kept us from doing it was the threat of what is happening to Samuel Kunz in his trial today.

You are also correct that there was enough hate in that war for many generations but there needs to be closure of some sort even if it takes 60 years.
02:01 July 31, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen

I don't even know how to phrase this. What on earth are you on about? I'm not blaming anyone for anything. I didn't DO anything. I don't need to be reminded about how horrible genocide is, and I don't care if the "Jewish People" are educated or not. If they are, good for them. What do I care? I don't see why I should pay reparations, or why I should cower in subservience every time someone mentions the holocaust or judaism. My generation did NOTHING and has paid for damned near everything. I don't care. Shut up. Stop talking to me.

Is that clear enough?
12:30 August 1, 2010 by Essertpitay
@Der Grenadier

Again you are mixing several arguments and try to come away (or should I say/write get way) with it. Now, according to your last thread, there is nobody to blame. How convenient it would be.

There is a legacy and someone has to own it. It is as simple as that. And as I said earlier on, for generations to come.

I think it is pretty clear.
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