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Nazi Death Camps: Justice?

In Germany, a man named John Demjanjuk was recently convicted for taking part in murdering thousands of Jews, specifically 28,060 that died while in the 6 month period of his employment at the death camp .  The 91-year-old was sentenced to 5 years in prison (5 years…really?). Of course, there is an appeal process that could take up to a year and the judge ordered that he not be held in custody during that period.  Though, there is no real “evidence” whether he committed  an actual crime. But technically, if he was aware of what was happening in the camps and he stood by and worked there, that seems like evidence enough. However, this is German law and i don’t know how this is similar/ different from U.S. law. I think if he is convicted, it would set a very interesting precedent as far as convicting murderers after wars are over.

Demjanjuk leaving court.

Though honestly, what’s the point of sending this guy to prison? I agree that he needs to pay somehow for his wrong-doing but jail isn’t the answer. It would be waste of money to send him to jail. Jail is supposed to act as a deterrence mechanism (which some studies suggest that it doesn’t but that’s another barrel of monkeys). So this 91-year-old man could be taking up space where other criminals, people who might actually repeat their crimes, could be.

Auschwitz survivors shortly the concentration camp was liberated in 1945.

There needs to be a different punishment worked out for him, maybe paying an amount of money that could be given to a Holocaust Memorial or some kind of community service. No, those aren’t equal to the crime committed but that’s not how a healthy justice system should function anyways. If we try to match punishments to crimes that are committed, we aren’t solving any problems.

Sobibor death camp.

Realistically, he’ll be dead before his trial is over. He’s an old man and at this point in his life, there aren’t many chances of actually “rehabilitating” him or somehow changing his ways. It’s a bit too late.

Sign at Sobibor death camp.


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