Is it really worth hunting down surviving Nazis?

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It's something worth putting a token effort towards to demonstrate an adherence to the idea that some crimes simply cannot be pardon or released with the passing of time. But more than a token effort would probably be a waste of resources. They should keep up the effort until the 100th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe in 2045, after which they can safely rule that there are likely no remaining individuals involved even alive. Shut down the operation and put up a plaque with the names and locations of the captured and those who sought to bring them to justice and call it good.

Well, if it's someone who gave an order to commit an atrocity, sure, if they were following orders well...in the Third Reich, you did what you were told or else. Also, I'm not sure if its worth actively looking for them if they've managed to stay under the radar for 70 years. They'll probably all be dead in ten years anyway.

Depends on whether we're talking about (relatively or not) high-ranking Nazi officials and those who actively participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes, or just German soldiers who Fate decided, for a larf, would serve one of the most horrific regimes in history (before anyone leaps on me with fangs bared, I am not saying the Wehrmact was comprised entirely of mindless automatons who cannot be held accountable for the crimes that many did indeed commit).

If the former, then by all means the hunt should continue: Emperor knows enough of them were quietly pardoned....

erttheking:
in the Third Reich, you did what you were told or else.

From what I know of the history, this is not completely true. Sure there was pressure, and the pressure was certainly larger than in a society where you know you can have recurse to unbiased courts. However, outside maybe the final years of the war, you could refuse orders. I don't think just flat out refusing to participate would have gotten you killed.

Stephen Sossna:

erttheking:
in the Third Reich, you did what you were told or else.

From what I know of the history, this is not completely true. Sure there was pressure, and the pressure was certainly larger than in a society where you know you can have recurse to unbiased courts. However, outside maybe the final years of the war, you could refuse orders. I don't think just flat out refusing to participate would have gotten you killed.

Depends...Hitler did end up having a few tantrums and ordering lots of people killed.

OTOH, most people wouldn't be involved in anything big enough to make it across his desk, so to speak.

Stephen Sossna:

erttheking:
in the Third Reich, you did what you were told or else.

From what I know of the history, this is not completely true. Sure there was pressure, and the pressure was certainly larger than in a society where you know you can have recurse to unbiased courts. However, outside maybe the final years of the war, you could refuse orders. I don't think just flat out refusing to participate would have gotten you killed.

Considering the 3rd Reich wasn't kind to dissidents i could understand someone not wanting to take the chance of giving the wrong idea to their superiors. Such regimes tend to inspire a "yes man" attitude even if they don't actually put people in jail for the act of saying "no".

generals3:
Considering the 3rd Reich wasn't kind to dissidents i could understand someone not wanting to take the chance of giving the wrong idea to their superiors. Such regimes tend to inspire a "yes man" attitude even if they don't actually put people in jail for the act of saying "no".

One of the reasons that Hitler made so many bad decisions, nobody wanted to be the person to say "No" when he asked if something could be done.

Admittedly, they could him they couldn't defeat France the way they did, which mightn't have helped the leadership in the long run.

thaluikhain:

Depends...Hitler did end up having a few tantrums and ordering lots of people killed.

OTOH, most people wouldn't be involved in anything big enough to make it across his desk, so to speak.

I am under the impression this was more for not following his strategic orders/making mistakes on a command level, but I am not sure.

generals3:

Considering the 3rd Reich wasn't kind to dissidents i could understand someone not wanting to take the chance of giving the wrong idea to their superiors. Such regimes tend to inspire a "yes man" attitude even if they don't actually put people in jail for the act of saying "no".

Yeah, I think you are right about that. The question is, how convincing of a defense is that? Antisemitism, Militarism, unquestioning loyalty, those traits may all have been "children of their time", so to speak. Does being in such a system justify also taking part in it? It seems hard to argue that KZ guards were unable to see the evil they were committing because their society had different sensibilities.

Stephen Sossna:

thaluikhain:

Depends...Hitler did end up having a few tantrums and ordering lots of people killed.

OTOH, most people wouldn't be involved in anything big enough to make it across his desk, so to speak.

I am under the impression this was more for not following his strategic orders/making mistakes on a command level, but I am not sure.

IIRC, after the so-called "Great Escape", not only did Hitler have 50 of the 70 odd escaping airmen killed, he also executed the camp commandant and several ordinary guards who'd slipped up in some way.

Even if he'd not killed them directly, there was always the Eastern front to send people to.

Not wanting to necro the thread, but this seems relevant:

Oldest Holocaust Survivor dies (BBC)

Whatever the motivations for hunting down remaining Nazis, justice for the survivors is no longer a consideration.

thaluikhain:

Stephen Sossna:

thaluikhain:

Depends...Hitler did end up having a few tantrums and ordering lots of people killed.

OTOH, most people wouldn't be involved in anything big enough to make it across his desk, so to speak.

I am under the impression this was more for not following his strategic orders/making mistakes on a command level, but I am not sure.

IIRC, after the so-called "Great Escape", not only did Hitler have 50 of the 70 odd escaping airmen killed, he also executed the camp commandant and several ordinary guards who'd slipped up in some way.

Even if he'd not killed them directly, there was always the Eastern front to send people to.

TBF, the Great Escape was a colossal fuckup by the camp staff. I seem to remember seeing the inventory lists for replacement equipment, and no one twigged that there was something exceptionally suspicious about huge amounts of furniture going missing, along with large numbers of various tools which could be used for digging. And electrical cabling and lamps...

Of course, that's not to say that the execution of either the camp staff or the escapees was justified - Hitler was completely psychotic about 'behind the lines' actions because of the effectiveness of the SOE and various resistance organisations.
In fact, there's some speculation that some of the more high-profile espionage was done as much to piss him off and impair his judgement as to materially aid in the war.

OneCatch :
Of course, that's not to say that the execution of either the camp staff or the escapees was justified - Hitler was completely psychotic about 'behind the lines' actions because of the effectiveness of the SOE and various resistance organisations.
In fact, there's some speculation that some of the more high-profile espionage was done as much to piss him off and impair his judgement as to materially aid in the war.

Hmmm...hadn't heard that, but it sounds like the sort of thing that those sorts of people would be up to, yeah.

I remember Hitler having the same reaction after St Nazaire.

thaluikhain:

OneCatch :
Of course, that's not to say that the execution of either the camp staff or the escapees was justified - Hitler was completely psychotic about 'behind the lines' actions because of the effectiveness of the SOE and various resistance organisations.
In fact, there's some speculation that some of the more high-profile espionage was done as much to piss him off and impair his judgement as to materially aid in the war.

Hmmm...hadn't heard that, but it sounds like the sort of thing that those sorts of people would be up to, yeah.

I remember Hitler having the same reaction after St Nazaire.

Yeah, that's exactly the kind of thing I meant! Operation Gunnerside in Norway was another (though in fairness that was also an important target for conventional reasons). These kinds of thing incensed Hitler because there wasn't anything he could do about it. And his typically geneva-convention-breaking responses alienated him from the military, who had a fair bit of respect for the laws of war as they pertained to their Western foes.

The Abwehr didn't really have much personal intelligence on the upper echelons of the allied governments (or anything else for that matter), but the British in particular put an awful lot of effort into basically trolling the German High Command. They even considered using Hitler's penchant for the occult against him - they investigated somehow using his personal psychic to mess with him (though sadly they weren't able to devise a means to turn or otherwise influence her).

thaluikhain:
One of the reasons that Hitler made so many bad decisions, nobody wanted to be the person to say "No" when he asked if something could be done.

For a very long time the Abwehr (German Army Intelligence made up of men who were less-than-nazi-ish) started sending reports up the chain doubling the estimated strength of allied forces.

They did this because the Nazi Officers who got the reports before the Higher commanders would halve the numbers before presenting them. Nobody in those higher echelons wanted to piss Hitler off by giving him (what they thought were) the true enemy strengths and capabilities.

And that was when they were actually trying to deliver good Intelligence. As I said, the lads and lasses of the Abwehr (particuarly it's commander, who would eventually be executed for high treason) were not exactly loyal Nazis - There was a lot of deliberately fucked Intelligence being fed to the German high command by it's one of its own Int organisations.

As I said, the commander of the Abwehr was executed for Treason - I don't know how accurate this is, but they claim to have found evidence of his planning something like 20 different plots to assassinate or depose Hitler.

My source for all of this is memory by the way, I'm in no mood to be off googling shit, so if I've significantly fucked any facts I apologise.

Anyway, TL;DR - I agree with you, here's an example of how that led to amusing consequences.

My grandmother and her sister were the only members of their (large) family that survived the holocaust. Hunt the bastards down, till the ends of the earth.

Batou667:
Not wanting to necro the thread, but this seems relevant:

Oldest Holocaust Survivor dies (BBC)

Whatever the motivations for hunting down remaining Nazis, justice for the survivors is no longer a consideration.

Uhhhh, that doesn't actually make sense as only the oldest one died. There are still many younger people who survived the holocaust that are still alive.

OT: I would imagine that regardless of the individual, the evidence of any wrongdoing after what, nearly 70 years, is going to be rather scant for your average run-of-the-mill soldier.

CM156:

Uhhhh, that doesn't actually make sense as only the oldest one died. There are still many younger people who survived the holocaust that are still alive.

OT: I would imagine that regardless of the individual, the evidence of any wrongdoing after what, nearly 70 years, is going to be rather scant for your average run-of-the-mill soldier.

Damn my reading comprehension. I read "oldest" but my brain interpreted it as "last".

I agree though, prosecuting a 70-year old event is likely to be a nightmare in terms of evidence, and of limited use too.

Batou667:

CM156:

Uhhhh, that doesn't actually make sense as only the oldest one died. There are still many younger people who survived the holocaust that are still alive.

OT: I would imagine that regardless of the individual, the evidence of any wrongdoing after what, nearly 70 years, is going to be rather scant for your average run-of-the-mill soldier.

Damn my reading comprehension. I read "oldest" but my brain interpreted it as "last".

I agree though, prosecuting a 70-year old event is likely to be a nightmare in terms of evidence, and of limited use too.

Then also comes the issue of mental health. For example, suppose they're suffering from Alzheimer's in its advanced stage. I mean, far be it from me to sympathize with Nazis, but it they have no idea what happened, what's happening, or who they are, putting them on trial just seems like a waste of resources.

CM156:

Then also comes the issue of mental health. For example, suppose they're suffering from Alzheimer's in its advanced stage. I mean, far be it from me to sympathize with Nazis, but it they have no idea what happened, what's happening, or who they are, putting them on trial just seems like a waste of resources.

That's already happening, apparently.

www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-01/court-rules-auschwitz-suspect2c-942c-unfit-to-stand-trial/5292608

The guy is apparently unfit to stand trial, because his Alzheimers has gotten so bad. On a personal note, if they're still alive, and keenly aware of themselves and what they've done, then they should probably stand trial. If not, then all we're doing is dragging broken old men through a show trial for petty revenge. That hardly screams 'justice' for me.

Stephen Sossna:

generals3:

Considering the 3rd Reich wasn't kind to dissidents i could understand someone not wanting to take the chance of giving the wrong idea to their superiors. Such regimes tend to inspire a "yes man" attitude even if they don't actually put people in jail for the act of saying "no".

Yeah, I think you are right about that. The question is, how convincing of a defense is that? Antisemitism, Militarism, unquestioning loyalty, those traits may all have been "children of their time", so to speak. Does being in such a system justify also taking part in it? It seems hard to argue that KZ guards were unable to see the evil they were committing because their society had different sensibilities.

Read my OP, and read up on the 'milgram experient' it addresses this argument with disturbing inclinations on how we view 'justice'.

I think it is not worth it anymore. wast majority of them will be dead by old age now, and the rest are soon to follow. either way, a person that has managed to elude what probably has to be the most wast hunt in history for 70 years has to have earned something.
Not that i dont think they are guilty or senile or anything, but i think that for one its time to let go of them and for two, its not like other coutnries with adequate crimes were punished AT ALL.

You're not alone. I think that we should have moved on and had an amnesty long ago. After some point, there's less and less value in seeking collective retribution. We're left to hunting down ghosts who have long since lived their lives and only have a few years left. The only punishment left is ensuring they die in an behind bars. Really, that's just petty. They're not going to be rehabilitated, nor can they commit war crimes ever again. Nor would they ever have, if it wasn't for their circumstances.

In fact, I'll go further. There is no point in hunting down low-ranking soldiers who were just following orders. No, it doesn't absolve them of responsibility. Yet people are surprisingly apt to follow orders for fear of punishment. Ordinarily, the vast majority of low-level war criminals would never do any of this. Yet in the end, when it's you or them, you'll do crazy things just to keep your head above water. And that doesn't just mean obeying orders. It means for instance, internalising the values of the system. Becoming a Nazi in order to ensure the best possible outcome for yourself. Be a good nazi, and you'll get rewarded with increased status. It's sad, but as other people have mentioned, just look at the Stanford Prison and Milgram experiments. People are more impressionable in groups than we'd like to believe.

I don't think that we should treat collective morality the same as we treat individual morality. It's like quantum physics and relativity. People function differently as individual agents, than they do as part of a group.

What's interesting and never talked about in the United States,
Is the fact that the Nazis got their ideas from the USA's racial agenda against Negro.

That's were Hitler's anti-Jewish aka Anti Malutto agenda started from. He defined Jews as being a person of mixed European and Negro genes and need to be exterminated like the Eugenics movement of the USA at that time was.

Matter of fact, the USA was an ally of the Nazi at first before the Nazis refused their help .

Fraser Greenfield:

Read my OP, and read up on the 'milgram experient' it addresses this argument with disturbing inclinations on how we view 'justice'.

I don't really see how factual information should change our view of the philosophical concept "justice". After all, from an empirical standpoint it seems reasonable to argue that every one of our actions is predetermined anyways, so any concept of responsibility that is based on "he could have (factually) acted differently" (in this case: resisted the order) is bound to fail.

Now there is an argument to make for people being manipulated into doing orders which, from a philosophical viewpoint, make those actions not their own any more. But as pointed out in the criticisms of the Milgram experiment, it is kinda hard to argue that KZ guards were manipulated, rather than just uncaring.

MammothBlade:
They're not going to be rehabilitated, nor can they commit war crimes ever again. Nor would they ever have, if it wasn't for their circumstances.

No-one commits any crime if it "wasn't for the circumstances". The question is which circumstances should matter.

MammothBlade:

In fact, I'll go further. There is no point in hunting down low-ranking soldiers who were just following orders. No, it doesn't absolve them of responsibility. Yet people are surprisingly apt to follow orders for fear of punishment. Ordinarily, the vast majority of low-level war criminals would never do any of this. Yet in the end, when it's you or them, you'll do crazy things just to keep your head above water. And that doesn't just mean obeying orders. It means for instance, internalising the values of the system. Becoming a Nazi in order to ensure the best possible outcome for yourself. Be a good nazi, and you'll get rewarded with increased status. It's sad, but as other people have mentioned, just look at the Stanford Prison and Milgram experiments. People are more impressionable in groups than we'd like to believe.

You say it "doesn't absolve them of responsibility", but in the end this seems exactly your conclusion. I would not generally disagree with the notion that under certain circumstances, being in a certain system might change your internal values enough to make you unable to consider your deeds wrong. That could indeed be argued to absolve someone from their responsibility. But is that accurate for the case at hand? People may have genuinely believed the Nazi propaganda, but does this mean you are unable to realize that you are supporting a genocide?

At this point, I'm not sure it would be worth it, they would probably die before they were punished, what is life imprisonment to a 80+ year old? What is the death penalty to a 80+ year old? They've really "gotten away with it" at this point, where "gotten away with" is really living an entire life in fear of being discovered.

What's interesting about Milgram's experiment is that they did many, many variations on the experiment. The baseline was that 65% of people continued to shock the person, but when the person giving the shocks were in the same room it dropped to 40%, when the person had to hold the person's hand on a pad that shocked them, it dropped to 30%. Another thing to note, the experimenter who told the person to shock the other person had scripted responses to to the participants unwillingness to continue, they go in order from gentle assurance to giving the person an order to continue, in every situation where the participant was given the last response, an order, they disobeyed and asked to stop the experiment.

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