After the Allies held the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, they engaged in increasingly half-hearted attempts at “denazification” that somehow allowed the entire panoply of Nazi judges to not only escape punishment, but continue to work. . And many Nazi-era industrialists, academics, and scientists who had been enthusiastic Nazis, yet also ‘escaped the lashes, had little to fear from their German compatriots once those pesky victorious allies (the United States, Britain, and France ) were gone, for a while. those Allies actually believed that Nazi war criminals would be duly punished by West German courts, the Germans had other ideas. And in some cases, the sentences handed down by the Allied courts were soon commuted by the Allies themselves.
Take, for example, the war criminal Alfred Krupp, who enthusiastically employed slave labor in his factories, most of them Jews, who in some cases were “borrowed” from Auschwitz and often worked to death. When offered the opportunity to employ Germans for part of the work in his factories, he declined the offer, preferring to have an entirely slave workforce. Krupp worked closely with the SS, who controlled the concentration camps from which the forced labor was obtained. In a letter dated September 7, 1943, he wrote: “As for the cooperation of our technical office in Breslau, I can only say that between that office and Auschwitz the closest understanding exists and is guaranteed for the future.” According to one of his own employees, even as it was clear that the war was lost: “Krupp considered it his duty to make 520 Jewish girls, some of them little more than girls, work under the most brutal conditions in the heart of the concern, in Essen.”
The Allies put Krupp on trial just after the war as a war criminal. Of course, he tried to paint himself as not involved in politics; he was simply a factory owner, an innocent businessman trying to stay afloat in difficult times. Until the end of his life, he denied all guilt. At his trial in 1947, he stated:
“The economy needed a constant or increasing development. Due to the rivalries between the many political parties in Germany and the general disorder, there was no opportunity for prosperity. … We thought that Hitler would give us such a healthy environment. In fact, he did that. … We Krupps never cared much for [political] ideas We just wanted a system that would work well and allow us to work without hindrance. Politics is not our business.”
In fact, the Krupp holdings flourished under the Nazi regime. According to conservative estimates, the Krupp companies used about 100,000 people in the slave labor program. Yes, for Krupp “the system [of slave laborers] worked fine.”
Knowing that he worked many of those slave laborers to death, many thought he deserved the death penalty or, at the very least, life imprisonment. Instead, the Allied judges awarded him a prize of only twelve years. And in the end, he stayed in prison for only three years.
John J. McCloy intervened and in 1951 reduced Krupp’s sentence to three years. McCloy was at the time the German High Commissioner, and possibly the worst person in that position. It was clear from his actions that McCloy was full of sympathy for the conquered Germans, including some of the worst war criminals, while he had no sympathy for the Jews they had murdered. It is not surprising Die Zeit he called it “the conscience of America.” He was the darling of postwar Germany, because he was the most morally corrupt American. It was McCloy who, as Under Secretary of War, prevented the rail lines to Auschwitz from being bombed by American planes, which could have saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives.
McCloy approved the commutation of the sentences of many convicted war criminals. Among them were industrialists Friedrich Flick, Alfred Krupp, and Einsatzgruppe commander (and mass murderer) Martin Sandberger, a particularly ruthless SS man who lived to the unnecessary age of 98. McCloy granted restitution of all of Krupp’s property and commuted Krupp’s sentence. to three years, which in 1951 meant time served. He commuted the sentence of Ernst von Weizsäcker. Another commutation handed down was for Edmund Veesenmayer, who played a role in the mass deportations. The West German public was not satisfied even with this. Hundreds of thousands of them came out to protest, protest! – that other war criminals had not received similar commutations.
Krupp served three years of his 12-year sentence, after which McCloy allowed him to go free and keep all the property he was supposed to lose, property made more valuable by the use of 100,000 slave laborers during the war.
Just to make absolutely sure that there would be no more executions of Nazi war criminals, in 1949, the West German government passed a law banning capital punishment. It was, in effect, a way to prevent millions upon thousands of people involved in the mass murder of Jews, prisoners of war, and Resistance fighters across Europe from receiving the punishment they deserved.
Such leniency brings us to the recent story of three German men who, convicted of repeatedly whipping, beating and insulting a Jewish man, were nevertheless given suspended sentences. That Story Is Here: “Elite German Fraternity Students Responsible For Anti-Semitic Assault Receive Suspended Sentences,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, December 8, 2022:
Three German students from an elite fraternity who were accused of beating a Jewish student and subjecting him to anti-Semitic insults have been given suspended sentences by a Heidelberg city court.
The three people convicted, who received eight-month suspended sentences and no financial penalty in Thursday’s court verdict, were members of the right-wing nationalist Normannia student fraternity. A fourth member of the group accused of participating in the assault was acquitted.
The incident occurred at a party at the Normannia fraternity mansion at the University of Heidelberg on August 2. January 29, 2020. A 25-year-old student who spoke out about his Jewish ancestry was berated with anti-Semitic slurs, whipped with belts, and thrown metal coins by the four assailants.
These students from what is described as “an elite German university fraternity” regularly greeted each other with the words “Heil Hitler” and used the word “Jew” as a pejorative, according to one of the fraternity’s former members, Karl Stockmann, in an article he published in the German magazine Der Spiegel. That disenchanted former member of the fraternity described the anti-Semitism and glorification of Germany’s Nazi past that was prevalent in the Normannia fraternity. He left the group, “disgusted” by the behavior of his frat mates, citing his habit of heavy drinking while listening to recordings of Hitler’s speeches as an example.
“Almost every day, someone greeted me with ‘Heil Hitler,’” Stockmann revealed.
Stockmann stressed that the attack on the Jewish student at the frat party could not be considered an isolated incident.
“When I was in Normannia, the word ‘Jew’ was considered a common swear word in the manor, comparable to ‘asshole’ or ‘son of a bitch,’” he said.
Another frequently heard slogan was: “We are Hitler’s people, then and now,” Stockmann said.
During the trial, the defendants insisted that the assault on the Jewish student had had a careless intent, further alleging that the victim knew in advance that the practice of “belting” [i.e., whipping with belts]it was a fraternity tradition that he might be subject to at the party, according to German media.
The assault was “cheerfully intended.” Yes, think of how gleeful that victim must have been when he was beaten with belts, metal coins thrown, and constantly insulted as a “Jew.” All in good fun, or so the three torturers of him claimed. What killjoys these Jews are! Can’t they have a little fun without making a big deal about it? Always complaining, never willing to join the joy. No wonder no one likes them.
Judge Nicole Bargatzky demurred, however, stating that “from fun to bitter seriousness, [the victim] he was placed in a corner as a Jew.”
During the proceedings, investigators complained of a “wall of silence” from witnesses who were at the party, with many claiming they were too intoxicated to clearly remember what had happened, German broadcaster SWR reported. Lawyers for the defendants claimed that while the students on trial had committed an “unforgivable act” brought on by a “toxic mix of worldview and drunkenness”, the lack of credible witnesses meant it was impossible to determine who was responsible for the assault.
For God’s sake, all three students were involved in tormenting the “Jew.” It matters little who took part in whipping him, or who joined in the general merriment by throwing metal objects at him, or who forced him to stand in a corner to be beaten while everyone looked on in amusement; all were participants, all guilty of this atrocity.
However, the German court did not punish them for those activities in which they engaged, as they claimed, so “lightly”. They received eight-month suspended sentences. No jail time. There are no fines for these students, who loved to listen to recordings of Hitler’s speeches, talk about “shitty Jews” and proclaim “we are Hitler’s people, then and now.” No justice for “the Jew” who had been tormented from this court in Heidelberg. Would it be wrong to draw a line connecting this latest miscarriage and what happened in German courts after the war, when no war criminals faced the death penalty and sentences previously handed down by Allied courts were so commuted? frequency?