Emotions Inspired by a 100-year-old Nazi

Emotions Inspired by a 100-year-old Nazi

Recently, in Germany, a 100-year-old man was charged with being an accessory to the deaths of 3,518 prisoners in the Sachsenhausen death camp from 1942 to 1945. Emotions flooded me in hearing this news update. Ironically, his name is being protected. German courts have ruled that he is physically capable of standing trial and this is scheduled to begin in October.

What emotions can truly express what we feel?


First of many emotions was pity. Really, can you imagine a man who is 100 years old being forced to answer for something he did almost 80 years ago? And, imagine watching an old, frail man walk into court. Imagine, the shame and embarrassment his family feels (or should be feeling) to learn that their father and grandfather was a monster, is a monster.

Within seconds, more emotions come. And, the pity evaporates. It’s hard to believe it was there in the first place. So, then the pity is replaced by an anger that bursts from within our souls. How dare he be allowed to breathe after denying that very right to at least 3,518 “prisoners”. And why, why aren’t the prisoners called what they were? Jews, intellectuals, homosexuals.

Prisoners? Such an abuse of the English language. In our hearts, we recognize that there must be prisoners in the world. Prisoners work for that title. They murder people, steal, cheat, abuse. These 3,518 people were not prisoners. They were victims, enemies of the Third Reich for who they were, not what they did.Emotions - Holocaust

Justice has already been delayed by eight decades. The trial will begin in October. Even these two months is a further outrage unless the man is being incarcerated now pending trial. Certainly, “mass” murderers who kill “only” 10 people are imprisoned until trial. How then, could a man who helped murder 3,518 people be allowed to continue his life?


Further, the German court ruled that the each session will be 2.5 hours a day, as this is a reasonable amount of time per day for a 100 year-old-man. Did his victims only suffer for 2.5 hours a day? At that rate, this case may take months. Months spent not because there is so much evidence that must be presented, as was the case with Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem in 1961. Rather, months to accommodate the needs of a man who did nothing to accommodate the lives of his victims.

More than 200,000 people were held in Sachsenhausen; over 30,000 people died there. In what world should this man be given the courtesy of only being tried for 2.5 hours a day? He got away with murder for 8 decades. Why should he be allowed freedom now?

Why Did it Take 80 Years?

And the unanswered question remains: why did it take the Germans 80 years to find this man and bring him to justice? And how will they try a man when those who could have given testimony are probably already gone? These are questions and problems that we as Israelis don’t have to address. This trial belongs to Germany; as Eichmann’s was ours.

In April 1961, the State of Israel tried Adolf Eichmann. The trial lasted for about 9 months. It was used as an opportunity to bear witness to what was done during the Holocaust, to document it, to publicize it. One hundred and ten people were called up to testify. Hundreds of hours of court time, volumes and volumes of evidence was submitted to the courts. Eichmann’s identity was proven without question before the trial even began.

Accomplice or Murderer

Ultimately, it took two days to read the verdict. In his final attempt to persuade the Israeli court of his “innocence,” Eichmann said he was only an accomplice, only responsible for transporting the Jews to their deaths. Only an accomplice. And when all was said and done, Eichmann was sentenced to death. He was hanged, his body cremated, and his ashes spread across the sea.

When you are an accomplice to mass murder, was the obvious answer, you are one of the murderers. Eichmann was. So is this Nazi guard. The only “consideration” that was given to Eichmann was that he was given food and a bathroom, a bed on which to sleep. Sadly, I believe the bed had a mattress on it though he denied that comfort to his victims.

In the winter months, he was kept warm; and the bathroom was not a stone hole on which he was given only moments to relieve himself. Though his crimes included the dehumanizing of millions, he was treated as a human being until the last day of his accursed life.


Beyond anger, there are two other emotions that come alive. The first is acceptance. I accept that the Germans are hopeful this man will have the good sense to die before they are all embarrassed by having to hold this trial. And, I accept that no justice can be found because even if the man doesn’t die, even if the courts find him guilty, the judges will likely say the man is too old to be put in jail. Finally, I accept that this man can celebrate the victory of having evaded human justice and so acceptance yields to determination – my final solution for the remaining Nazis in this world.


And determination. In Israel, the Holocaust is something that lives in us, lives with us. And it is something that is handed down to each generation in the form of sirens wailing each year, lessons to children, names remembered and candles lit. From the youngest age, children are first taught how to stand and listen and told that something bad happened a long time ago and this is our way to remember.

All of  my children know that the Nazis murdered all of their great-grandparents and put one of their grandmothers in a gas chamber. They know they are alive today because at the last second, she came out. Some day, my grandchildren will be taught this part of our family history.

Pride in Israel

And despite the anger, there are more emotions, including pride. The Holocaust is part of the reason why Israel rushes to help others when disaster strikes. It is why we watch all Jewish communities and why we are prepared to rescue them – as we did in Ethiopia and Yemen. And bring them home, as we did in Russia and now wait with determination and faith for the Jews in France, South Africa, Germany and perhaps even the US.

We are determined never again to be in a position that we have to wait for the delayed justice of an embarrassed nation. Never again will our people be imprisoned through the cold winters of Germany and Poland, treated as outcasts in Yemen and Iraq, starved and beaten in the cities of Austria, the Netherlands, France and Hungary and Belgium. Israel is the answer.

An Open Letter to a 100-year-old Nazi

Having written about the court in Germany and our response from Israel, I’d like to take a moment and speak to the man whose name is being protected, a man who has gotten away with murder for 80 years. For this, I’ll put emotions aside and speak honestly – a concept he is likely unable to understand.

To you, I have a very simple and clear message. Live or die, we do not care. Your verdict has already been decided, your punishment scheduled. No matter what happens in the courts of Berlin, your sentencing date has been written. Soon, so very soon, you will face the Great Court of the Heavens. As you listen to your eternal verdict, listen carefully and you’ll hear the voices of your victims.

Oh yes, you’ll see their faces behind the Heavenly Court. With complete faith, I promise you, they will be granted the right to see true justice. For you, it is never too soon to say Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Blessed is the True Judge, for He is also the Judge of Truth. You have lived a lie for almost 80 years. Any children or grandchildren born to you are part of that lie. Soon, we will know your name…and theirs. Hopefully, in their shame, they will denounce you. But it doesn’t matter. Your guilt was sealed in Sachsenhausen; your penitence begins now.

May you be blessed with eternal suffering and may the generations of your family curse your name, as we do and as we will.

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