Inside the Last-Ditch Effort to Go After Auschwitz Guards
John Demjanjuk case lowered threshold for convictions
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2013 9:46 AM CDT
FILE - In this May 12, 2011 file photo, John Demjanjuk leaves a courtroom in Munich, Germany.   (AP Photo/dapd/ Lennart Preiss, File)

(Newser) – Sixty-eight years after the end of World War II, Germany's Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes has made a last attempt at justice: a list. On it are the names of 50 former Auschwitz guards still known to be alive, compiled via state databases, Holocaust documents, and travels to Poland. Next, the office will determine which have not yet been prosecuted—and then attempt to do so. The New York Times reports that the office has been aware of some of the names on the list for five decades; it's able to pursue them now thanks to the 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk.

As the Times reports, that case lowered the legal bar needed to secure a conviction: Demjanjuk, who died in 2012, became the first person to be convicted in a Nazi-era case without direct evidence he took part in a specific murder—prosecutors argued that proving he was a guard at a camp whose sole purpose was killing people was enough. "We’re very happy that this thing is happening," says the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi hunter. "But the real test of the initiative will come when these cases are turned over to the prosecutors."

View 1 more image
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Inside the Last-Ditch Effort to Go After Auschwitz Guards is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 55 comments
Apr 11, 2013 9:24 PM CDT
The Demjanjuk case was clearly one of GUILT BY ASSOCIATION!!! Though no crime was ever proven to be committed by him, he was still found guilty of just being there and sentenced to prison for life, or rather death. Is this what we want our legal system to be? When 0bama is convicted of his crimes against society, will all of his followers also be tried and found guilty, being sentenced to death at some World Court gulag? It's time to end the insanity found in America today.
Apr 11, 2013 8:08 PM CDT
It's almost pointless. They've already lived-out full happy FREE lives. Now that they're old, do you think they fear prosecution and a death penalty? Case in point: Demjanjuk lived freely since what he did in the 1940s and finally gets convicted in 2011, then he dies of natural causes (not proven to be otherwise) in 2012. He lived a fulfilling life, with lots of family, in the United States! He was 91 years old...
Apr 11, 2013 8:06 PM CDT
unless you lived it you have no clue