“One night in January 1943, I saw, for the first time, the Jews being gassed. I heard the panicked screams of human beings as the doors were closed.” This is how Oskar Gröning described his time at Auschwitz in several German newspaper articles in 2005.
He served with the SS there from September 1942 to October 1944, and was responsible for managing the money and valuables of the murdered – hence his nickname the “accountant of Auschwitz” in the media. He proclaimed himself innocent. “I killed no one, I was just a small cog in the killing machine. I was not a perpetrator,” he said in 2005.
But now, ten years later, Gröning is on trial – what could be the last major Nazi trial in Germany is set to begin on April 21. Since the accused has lived in a small village in the area for years, the trial will take place in the German regional court in Lüneburg. The 93-year-old is accused of 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.
The charges brought by the state prosecutor’s office in Hanover, responsible for the prosecution of Nazi crimes in Lower Saxony, have been limited to the so-called “Hungarian Operation,” for “legal and evidence reasons.” The operation took place between May 16 and July 11, 1944. During that two-month period the SS deported about 425,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. Some 300,000 of these were led directly to the gas chambers and murdered…
This trial “comes decades too late,” says Christoph Heubner, executive vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee. “The accused lived the most important decades of his life in peace and in freedom in the heart of society.” Gröning, born on June 10, 1921, came to Auschwitz as a young man of twenty-one. Now he is an old man who will soon turn 94.
Why so late?
Average life expectancy in Germany is about 80 years. For that reason alone one has to ask, why have things progressed so slowly in the case against Gröning? Why is the “accountant of Auschwitz” coming before the court now, at the end of his life? Especially since the so-called Ludwigsburg “central office” for the investigation of Nazi crimes has been active since 1958.
One reason is a revision of legal jurisprudence. In the 1960s and 1970s, the legal premise was that each perpetrator had to be proven to have committed a specific crime. This precedence changed with a Munich court’s decision in the trial of John Demjanjuk. In 2011, the now deceased former guard at the Sobibor death camp was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of more than 28,000 Jews – although his direct participation could not be proven.
So far the Lüneburg court has slated 27 days for the trial. The verdict is to be handed down at the end of July. More than 60 co-plaintiffs will testify, travelling from the United States, Hungary, Canada, and Israel.
Complicity is rarely a tough question for survivors of genocide, mass murder. It not so unusual to find folks on both sides of a question like this who agree on guilt, either. Witness the hundreds of Americans who have made their way back to VietNam – to work, to rebuild what they helped to destroy. Witness – if you would – Leo Szilard’s novel The Voice of the Dolphins where essentially he puts himself on trial for a leading role in designing nuclear weapons for the Manhattan Project.
But, in practice – most of those “cogs in a killing machine” are in denial of any responsibility. If you are not a survivor, if your government doesn’t care more for victims than perpetrators, responsibility is a hard thing to come by.
Kansas has yet to warm up to medical marijuana, mother and cannabis oil activist Shona Banda learned last month…After her young son defended the use of cannabis during a drug education lesson, school counselors reportedly called state authorities that detained the child and raided Shona’s home…
Police obtained a warrant and searched her home, finding 2 ounces of cannabis flower and an ounce of cannabis oil, Washington Post confirms.
The family previously lived in Colorado, where recreational use of marijuana is legal. There, Banda used cannabis oil to successfully treat her Crohn’s disease and has since been in support of its use.
The cannabis found in her home could lead to felony charges, but none have been made yet. Banda’s son has been taken from her; a new custody hearing is set for Monday.
“My son and I did have the talk about how it’s not OK to bring this up in Kansas, because it’s a different state than Colorado,” Banda told reporter Ben Swann…”It’s very confusing for a child.”
Obviously, she hasn’t learned the Republican morality police are everywhere. More in control of power and police in some states than others.
A New Mexico father isn’t facing any charges after his six-year-old daughter accidentally shot her sister. San Juan county chief prosecutors told the Farmington Daily Times the Flora Vista father violated basic firearms rules and was negligent but that negligence did not rise to a level of a crime.
In January, the father handed the .22-caliber rifle to his 6-year-old daughter to take to another room, but she pointed it at her 8-year-old older sister and pulled the trigger hitting her in the neck. The 8-year-old survived.
The mother of the girls says the family has since removed all firearms from their home and the father suffers from incredible guilt.
So, I guess we don’t need laws covering stupid acts which cause harm and pain. We can rely on feelings of guilt to cover everything. No, I have no interest in sending this unnamed dad to the slammer; but, he could be properly charged and judged. Even if he gets officially warned, lightly sanctioned, it tells the NM public you can’t avoid laws on the basis of screwing up.
That’s about right for New Mexico. We recently had an off-duty cop run a red light and T-bone a car, killing one of two sisters and seriously injuring the other. He got 90 days for misdemeanor careless driving.
Anything else you think I should ignore – besides the NSA?
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee called…for the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration to step down amid allegations that DEA agents attended sex parties with prostitutes while stationed overseas.
Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said DEA chief Michele Leonhart has allowed problems at the agency to fester for more than a decade…
If Leonhart does not step down, President Barack Obama should fire her, Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz made the comments after a 3½-hour hearing Tuesday that focused on the sex party allegations, which date back to 2001. Leonhart has led the DEA since 2007 and was sole deputy administrator for three years before that.
An internal report said government money was used to pay prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official in Colombia.
DEA agents also rented undercover apartments in Colombia and used them for parties with prostitutes, the DEA said in an internal report…
The Justice Department report recounts allegations that DEA agents attended sex parties with prostitutes, funded by local drug cartels, in a foreign county. The report does not identify the country where the alleged sex parties occurred, but the DEA report released Tuesday identified it as Colombia.
The report came after a separate 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia involving the Secret Service drew attention to questionable behavior by law enforcement officers while stationed overseas. Those allegations prompted Congress to order a review of other agencies’ practices. DEA agents who were accused of misconduct in the wake of that scandal were recalled from Colombia and put on limited duty.
Ten DEA agents were accused of wrongdoing; seven were issued suspensions ranging from one to 10 days…
My only suggestion – in addition to endorsing the firing of the DEA Chief who did nothing – is to bring the former DEA head(s) back to Congress for questioning about the how and why of starting this criminal behavior. Then, sue them for the return of their paychecks.
Somehow – in 2001 – it became clear to agents of a number of police operating for the United States outside our borders that accepting gifts and prostitutes from drug gangs was acceptable. That’s not an easy decision even under Emperor Nero or Reichsführer Cheney, I imagine.
A woman accused of dumping her quadriplegic son in the woods at a park so she could spend the week with her out-of-state boyfriend will face an attempted murder charge…
Nyia Parler has been hospitalized for undisclosed reasons in Maryland since hours after her 21-year-old son was found last Friday in a pile of wet leaves in Cobb Creek Park in Philadelphia next to his wheelchair and a Bible. Police said they believe Parler’s son had been in the woods all week and was exposed to the cold, rainy weather and to wild animals.
Police said they have added attempted murder to an initial slate of charges listed in an arrest warrant Saturday. Those charges include aggravated assault, kidnapping and neglect of a care-dependent person.
Police said they did not expect to arrest the 41-year-old Parler until she was cleared for release from the hospital and charged in Maryland as a fugitive. They would then seek to have her extradited…
Parler’s son, who has cerebral palsy, was found around the corner from his home by a man who saw the wheelchair and went to investigate.
If the man hadn’t done that, Philadelphia police Lt. John Walker said, “this kid would have died a miserable death.”
The son was hospitalized in stable condition Monday after being treated for dehydration, malnutrition and abrasions…
The man who discovered the woman’s son was in the woods trying to take pictures of deer for his grandchildren. We are all glad he is a thoughtful grandfather.
Yes, I still wonder how inhuman we can be to our own – much less strangers.
The youngest victim — 9-year-old Ali Kinani
Rejecting pleas for mercy, a federal judge on Monday sentenced former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten to life in prison and three others to 30-year terms for their roles in a 2007 shooting that killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded 17 others.
The carnage in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, a crowded traffic circle, caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone and remains one of the low points of the war in Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Slatten, who witnesses said was the first to fire shots in the melee, to life on a charge of first-degree murder. The three other guards – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – were each sentenced to 30 years and one day in prison for charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony…
Prosecutors described the shooting as an unprovoked ambush of civilians and said the men haven’t shown remorse or taken responsibility. Defense lawyers countered that the men were targeted with gunfire and shot back in self-defense.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Martin urged the court to consider the gravity of the crime as well as the sheer number of dead and wounded and “count every victim.”
“These four men have refused to accept virtually any responsibility for their crimes and the blood they shed that day,” Martin said…
Mohammad Kinani Al-Razzaq spoke in halting English about the death of his 9-year-old son as a picture of the smiling boy, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, was shown on courtroom monitors. He demanded the court show Blackwater “what the law is” and claimed many American soldiers died “because of what Blackwater did.”
“What’s the difference between these criminals and terrorists?” Razzaq said.
And that, my friends, has always been the difference between fighting for national liberation, fighting for freedom against a foreign power occupying your nation – and terrorists willing to murder civilians regardless of what kind of freedom they say they’re fighting for.
It started with the brutal bombing of civilians in Madrid by Hitler’s Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War – and was carried on with glorious abandon and self-justification by the US Air Force carpet-bombing, dropping napalm on civilians in VietNam. Contemporary examples include scum from AlQaeda and ISIS – and hired gunslingers like these convicted thugs.
You can actually get down to pretty fine points arguing military history. This ain’t one of them.
Authorities say a log cabin that a family reported stolen off its foundation has been found in rural northeast Washington.
Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen says deputies following a tip found the cabin Thursday morning about 10 miles from its original location. He says the structure had been placed on stilts and was sitting at the end of a private road east of Springdale.
Chris Hempel tells The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane that her family drove to their cabin Tuesday and found the entire 10-by-20-foot structure missing.
Investigators think that whoever took the cabin was living in it.
Allen says deputies are getting a search warrant to get onto the property and inside the cabin. He says he has identified suspects but declined to name them.
Do Tiny Homes come with a VIN number?
The view from the hills around Iguala, Mexico, was stunning. But the more Christopher Gregory walked along the paths, the more his eye was drawn to the objects scattered along the way: scraps of clothing, beer bottles, trash. To him, these castoff items were possibly linked to the hundreds of people reported missing — presumably kidnapped, if not killed — by drug cartels that have long operated with impunity…
Little more than six months after 43 students were abducted and presumably killed in Iguala in Guerrero State, Mr. Gregory is wondering about all the other people who have vanished in that region. He had wanted to do a project on the missing students, but abruptly changed his mind when, during the early stages of the search, a mass grave was found with the remains of 28 people.
That became a flash point for him and Jeremy Relph, a writer with whom he had teamed up for the story. Once they got to Iguala, they discovered that disappearances had been going on for years, and on an alarming scale. While the government has put the tally of missing people in Guerrero State at about 120 from January to November of last year, local advocates working with families reported that some 400 people had been reported missing in Iguala alone in recent years.
“The photo is an evidentiary document,” he said. “There is no way to witness these kidnappings or document these violations of human rights, other than to point at the residue and try to have a conversation about what it means, how it looks like and how do we navigate these complex social and political issues, as well as the psychological issues. You can’t believe anybody or trust anybody in these areas because for all intents and purposes, they’re lawless.”
RTFA. Take a good look at what lawless means. You don’t need to go to the Arabian Peninsula or the Horn of Africa.
An alleged horse thief went down in a swarm of San Bernardino Sheriff’s deputies Thursday while an NBC helicopter captured the brutal scene from above.
NBC reports the cops began chasing the man when he fled the scene of a search warrant—apparently in a Dodge minivan. Eventually he abandoned the car and continued his escape on stolen horseback.
Officers were eventually able to tase him off the horse—and thus commenced a two-minute beatdown so large some officers had to step back to let other officers get a chance to hit and kick the man.
The group surrounding the man grew up to five sheriff’s deputies as several appeared to kick, hit, and punch him dozens of times over a two-minute period. In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 12 times and punched him 29 times. Eleven blows appeared to be to the head as seen from aerial footage…
After the frenzy subsided, the man reportedly lay still, without any medical attention, for more than half an hour. A sheriff’s spokesperson tells NBC two officers were treated for dehydration and one may have been kicked by the horse.
I’m surprised the deputies didn’t shoot and kill the horse.
Now there’s some poop worth stealing
The Des Moines Police Department responded to a report of an attempted burglary around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. Upon arrival, a man told police someone broke into the driver’s side door of his truck sometime last month.
According to a police report, the person who tried to steal the truck checked the bed of the vehicle and grabbed what turned out to be “a bag of dog feces.”
Police say they haven’t identified any suspects in the crime, but that he or she could face third-degree burglary charges.
The Des Moines Register reports that the dog poop has been valued at $1.
Who would pay a dollar for a bag of dog poop?