The political agenda of the West prevented the Holocaust crimes from being dealt with – at the expense of the Jews.
Einsatzgruppe (SS paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany) at work in the Ukraine in 1942 – Source: Wikipedia
No words can do justice to the horror of the Holocaust to which the Jews fell victim during the Nazi regime in Europe. It is rightly preserved in the consciousness of the world’s population.
However, the persecution of the perpetrators, which the entire West initially took up the cause of, was very quickly sacrificed to the political calculations of the powerful in the post-war period.
A cynical approach that should remain in the consciousness just as much as the Holocaust itself.
This event was also promoted by German politicians who should have known better. In doing so, those responsible not only caused a devastating injustice to the unatoned victims, but to this day prevent an objective discussion in geopolitics as soon as it concerns Israel.
Part 1 and Part 2 of our series on Israel showed the sometimes very ruthless behavior of the State of Israel in the Palestinian question and in the following parts of our series, the State of Israel will also face major reproaches.
“the USA as the string-puller and the young
Federal Republic as a willing helper”
However, Israel’s policy cannot be viewed in isolation from events in the West. The confused and helpless statements by Western politicians on the current Middle East problem can only be understood if we know exactly what really happened between 1945 and today with regard to the persecution of the most serious criminals in connection with the Holocaust.
Once again we are dealing with an extremely unsavory aspect of Western geostrategy – the USA as the string-puller and the young Federal Republic as a willing helper.
The losers: the Jews and a German population that has lost its bearings to this day as a result of these machinations.
Criminal prosecution shortly after the war
A noble beginning
Initially, it did indeed look as if a reformed international community of nations was seriously seeking atonement for these crimes. Every effort was made to create the impression that good had triumphed over evil and that the evil-doers would be brought to justice.
The international tribunal that judged the main war criminals in Nuremberg between November 1945 and 1946 is well remembered by the general public. The surviving and captured leaders were sentenced and many of them were hanged. On the occasion of this spectacle, the wider world public learned for the first time what the Nazis had done to the Jews. Films about the liberation of concentration camps were published and Dr. Otto Ohlendorf appeared as a witness for the prosecution.
Before the Jews were killed industrially in concentration and extermination camps, four so-called Einsatzgruppen were set up. These groups were formed from 400 to 1,000 soldiers and had the task of systematically killing mainly Jews in the conquered territories of the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1943.
The units, mostly made up of ordinary soldiers, slaughtered up to a million people – women, children and old people. Today we know that the claim of a compulsion to obey orders, which was regularly cited to justify the perpetrators, did not stand up to scrutiny against the facts. Every soldier had the option of not taking part in these actions. A refusal did not lead to any negative consequences for those concerned. Many of those who found this task repugnant nevertheless took part, claiming to have done so out of a sense of duty and loyalty to their colleagues.
Otto Ohlendorf led one of these Einsatzgruppen and, as a witness for the prosecution at the main trial in Nuremberg on January 6, 1946, described his work truthfully and without emotion. The transcript of this horror can be read here.
Original statement by Ohlendorf from January 6, 1946
Subsequently, the Americans held a further 12 trials in Nuremberg on their own, including the trial against members of the Einsatzgruppen.
Rigorous verdicts were handed down in this trial: all of the 24 defendants were found guilty. 14 received the death penalty, two life sentences and the others prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years.
This looked like a fair and consistent approach.
The battered German population as a pretext
Shortly after the war, people began to suppress the horrors of the Nazi regime. One often reads that the German population suffered incredibly from the genocidal warfare of the British and Americans against the civilian population and was also paralyzed by the complete destruction of many German cities. It is claimed that they no longer wanted to know about the atrocities committed by their compatriots – to forget and start again. A new beginning was only possible if one could also forget.
This view of the emotional world of the German people who had been maltreated by the war – albeit as a consequence of the actions of their own leadership – may be true, but it had nothing to do with the actual reason for the turnaround.
Rather, this mood was used as a pretext to implement a cynical plan.
Everything is subordinated to the Cold War – including justice
The Allies worked together intensively during the war. Opposing systems – Soviet communism and Western capitalism – did not seem to be a problem.
However, this changed abruptly with the election of President Truman. The USA needed a new enemy to satisfy the insatiable hunger of the US military-industrial complex: This was found in the Soviet Union, which had borne the brunt of the war against Nazi Germany.
To do this, the Americans needed allies on the European continent, above all Germany. Germany had to be reintegrated into the ranks of the Western Allies as quickly as possible.
First, the Deutschmark was introduced in clear violation of the Potsdam Agreement, West Germany was founded and then quickly revived through the Marshall Plan.
The mood of the German people described above was then misused to achieve these goals. The highly praised first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Konrad Adenauer, was happy to be harnessed for a campaign of mercy. Its aim was nothing other than the political preparation for the release of yesterday’s perpetrators, who were urgently needed as rehabilitated personnel in the fight against the Soviet Union.
The Americans acted as if they were the addressees of the appeals for clemency and presented themselves as understanding benefactors of maltreated West Germany.
As part of the political actions accompanying the campaign, Adenauer said that Germany’s contribution to the Western alliance would not come for free, but at the price of the rehabilitation of German soldiers. Six years after the war.
Major criminals at large
The above-mentioned consistent and severe punishment of the perpetrators in the Einsatzgruppen trial vanished into thin air: of the 14 people sentenced to death, only three were executed, including Ohlendorf. All other convicts were released between 1951 and 1958.
These perpetrators slaughtered tens of thousands of people and were released after a few years – in Switzerland, for example, traffic offenders are dealt with more harshly today.
Top people are rehabilitated and newly employed
We cite General Field Marshal Erich von Manstein as an example of the protection of leaders. He was undoubtedly one of the most capable generals of the Second World War. Despite this, he was demonstrably well aware of the atrocities that took place behind the front throughout the war and his staff coordinated procedures with the murder squads.
In 1949, he was put on trial in the West, but only to prevent his extradition to Poland or the USSR. Churchill even supported him financially. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Two months later, the sentence was reduced to 12 years and he was released in 1952, allegedly due to an eye condition. He then supported the development of the FRG and the Bundeswehr until 1960.
General Ulrich de Maizere, Bundeswehr, congratulates General Field Marshal Ulrich von Manstein (ret.) – Source: Getty Images
Pensions for offenders, including abroad, but not for victims
Another topic that is closely related to the aforementioned clemency campaign is the pension benefits and supplementary pensions for Nazis and SS members and their descendants, which were regulated by law in post-war western Germany. This is just a side note.
It was not a regulation for normal old-age pensions. It was expressly about the orderly payment of supplementary pensions for former Nazis and SS members and thus ultimately about a statutory and therefore enforceable regulation.
The London Debt Agreement
In contrast, the Federal Republic spared no effort to make a legal settlement for victims of the Nazi regime practically impossible, especially abroad.
For example, the Federal Republic negotiated compensation for foreign forced laborers as reparation claims in the London Debt Agreement of 1953. The FRG thus succeeded in postponing the legally binding agreements on this until the negotiations on a final peace treaty. And this still does not exist today.
“This injustice is neither legally, socially nor
The following comparison shows how cheaply the Federal Republic of Germany got away with the London Debt Agreement: the amount of reparations paid by the Eastern Zone and later the GDR was DM 99.1 billion. The later FRG paid DM 2.1 billion.
It is significant that this debt agreement would have been impossible without the very benevolent support of the Western victorious powers, above all the USA. It was a very effective instrument for reintegrating the FRG into Western power structures.
The pension payments and benefits to former SS members abroad, for example, should also be mentioned at this point. There were also binding regulations for these.
This injustice is neither legally, socially nor humanly comprehensible.
The Jews are not giving up
It was thanks to individuals that the prosecution of war criminals did not stop. There was no interest on the part of the official prosecution authorities.
The most famous of these is probably Simon Wiesenthal, who was himself a victim and was liberated from the Mauthausen concentration camp in May 1945.
Adolf Eichmann’s abduction from Argentina by the Mossad is one of Wiesenthal’s many successes. Eichmann was sentenced to death in a trial in Jerusalem. The sentence was carried out in 1961.
There were many others who did not accept the mendacious policies of the West and often had to fight against authorities in Germany and around the world to bring at least some of these criminals to justice. Many of the perpetrators not only worked for American secret services after the war, but even for German authorities. For example, the Butcher of Lyon Klaus Barbie worked for the Federal Intelligence Service (BND). Barbie was eventually convicted.
The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials
Fritz Bauer passed his knowledge directly to Israeli authorities, which led to Eichmann’s abduction from Argentina to Israel, as mentioned above. The fact that a German public prosecutor in 1960 did not trust his own prosecution authorities illustrates the internal constitution of the FRG at that time. His request to the German government to initiate Eichmann’s extradition was rejected by the West German government under Konrad Adenauer.
A pitoyable overall result
Apart from a few publicized events, the facts in no way show that these great horrors were effectively and consistently or even systematically atoned for. Many perpetrators were helped to leave Germany after the war, not only by Nazi sympathizers and organizations run by old Nazis, but also with the active assistance of government agencies and even the Catholic Church.
Also worth mentioning are the efforts of the United States, which enlisted countless criminals without scruples to gain an advantage against the Soviet Union. For example, Operation Overcast, in the course of which the Americans relocated thousands of German scientists to the USA. One of them was Wernher von Braun, a German scientist and war criminal. He carried out his V1 and V2 projects using tens of thousands of forced laborers. Thousands died in the process. He, on the other hand, became the father of the Apollo project in America and an American national hero.
Soviet victims were completely forgotten
If the Jews were at least not forgotten, the Soviet victims were not even mentioned. Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. In the Soviet Union, at least 16 million civilians fell victim to German slaughter. Nobody knows the actual figures. No one in the West cared – even today. The architect of this horror was General Halder. He worked for the USA after the war and wrote the history of the German campaign in the east – a truly objective account. I spoke about this in an interview in the summer.
Atonement for six million dead Jews and their descendants was subordinated to geopolitical games.
Tens of thousands of perpetrators were deliberately not prosecuted. Mass murderers sentenced to death were released after just a few years in order to return them to a society where they really had no place.
These perpetrators of what were declared to be the greatest crimes against humanity of all time were not only rehabilitated, but also given additional pensions and thus deliberately made better off than normal citizens and elevated to leading positions in politics and society.
Furthermore, with the active assistance of the USA and Great Britain, West Germany avoided paying compensation to the victims. They haggled and used every legal trick in the book to get off as cheaply as possible.
None of this was done in secret, but in full view of the world public and the German people. It should therefore come as no surprise that even after several generations, Germans still squirm when the Holocaust or the reappraisal of what happened is brought up. On the other hand, this has led to a situation in which the German public, and therefore also its political leadership, is unable to objectively assess and react to the current problems in Israel.
This development would not have been possible without the USA.
The sacrifice of the atonement of the perpetrators of the Holocaust was, contrary to all the assurances of official Germany, a policy directed against Israel, since the behavior we have described trampled on the memory of the victims. This can only be described as a renewed policy against the Jews as a people and even as anti-Semitic.
The memory of the 16 million civilian victims in the Soviet Union – quite a few of them Jews – was thus officially mocked.
Crimes committed during a war can never be fully atoned for. Above all, no one can undo the human victims. But atonement should be linked to the honest and sincere will of the descendants of the perpetrators to do what is morally and materially possible to enable the victims to make a new start.
This has not happened.
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This article by Dr. Peter Hanseler was co-authored by René Zittlau, a German citizen and linguist born in 1960, who specializes in Russian, Czech and Slovak as well as the culture and history of Eastern European countries, which gives him an independent view of the political and economic development in the respective countries, which he also knows through visits and longer stays. He first worked for the intelligence services and then in the private sector. After training as an SAP consultant, he worked as a managing director for companies in various sectors, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe.