Young refugees ‘must be integrated quicker to prevent violence’

After a group of young refugees from Syria and Libya were arrested for the attempted murder of a homeless man, the government’s commissioner for integration has called for action.

Young refugees ‘must be integrated quicker to prevent violence’
Aydan Özoguz. Photo: DPA

“It is important that they quickly receive supportive measures and training so that they are not just hanging around doing nothing,” Aydan Özoguz told Funke Media Group on Thursday.

Özoguz made her remarks after six Syrians and a Libyan between the ages of 15 and 21 were charged with attempted murder after they set fire to the clothes of a homeless man who was sleeping in a Berlin U-Bahn station on Christmas Eve.

The 37-year-old man was not injured after bystanders rushed to put out the flames.

The crime was abhorrent and no attempt should be made to justify it, Özoguz said. But she added that “such crimes won’t be prevented if we decide to stop helping refugees stand on their own two feet here.”

“We all need to work as hard as we can to give them contact points in our society.”

André Schulz, chairman of the Federation of Criminal Investigators (BDK) said that a lack of opportunities was leading some young refugees into crime.

“Many young refugees hoped for a better life here. But the chances don’t exist or are too limited,” he told Funke Media Group.

“Young men are bored and don’t see a future for themselves,” he warned, adding that this made it more likely they would fall into criminality.


Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.