Nazi victim: Can people without a soul be punished?

Breaking News

For 65 years, Elisabeth Mann has carried with her the pain only a Holocaust survivor can know.

Branded in her mind are the images of, for example, a pile of babies set ablaze, snarling dogs and the laughter of an SS officer pointing to the black smoke of incinerated bodies that filled the sky. And on her heavy heart is the anguish, including the blame she feels for her brother Laci's death.

Given the horrors she's lived and witnessed, one might think Mann, now in her 80s, would be among those demanding that Nazi war criminals be brought to justice. And yet she's uncomfortable with the ongoing attempts to deport to Germany for trial John Demjanjuk, an 89-year-old Cleveland, Ohio, man allegedly linked to mass killings at Sobibor, a death camp in Poland.

Mann doesn't think going after war criminals now is worth the cost and energy, nor does she think the legal process will make a difference to such men who've already lived a full life.

Her argument doesn't work for Efraim Zuroff, who has spent nearly 30 years hunting Nazis responsible for the Holocaust, a systematic effort that wiped out 6 million Jews, or two-thirds of European Jewry.

"It has to be clear to everybody that the Holocaust was not a natural disaster. ... It was created by man, against man," he said from Jerusalem, Israel, where he coordinates Nazi war crimes research for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization. "When responsibility can be determined, people have to be held accountable."

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Randll Reese Besch - 4/25/2009

It would still be good if the last memory those criminals have is a harsh empty life in the cells awaiting old age and eventually death. Hard labor would be nice so that they dread awakening every day.