Too late, but never too late – Prosecution against aging Nazis

In the past two years, two men, Reinhold Hanning and Oskar Groning, who had worked as guards and bookkeepers at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II were convicted to four- and five-year sentences for accessory to murder in German courts. Both men are in their 90s today and while it might seem futile to pursue cases against defendants this old, Attorney Christoph Rückel emphasized that their cases were also “too important to be ignored”. Rückel, who amongst other things is of counsel at BridgehouseLaw in Atlanta represented 23 Auschwitz survivors in these cases and helped prosecutors win the recent convictions.
In the 1970s, Germany had lifted a 30-year statute of limitation on Holocaust crimes. However, many German courts still required “direct action” in the deaths in order for the defendant to be convicted.
In 2011, the Regional Court of Munich (Landgericht München) had convicted another guard, but the man died before the judgment was final (rechtskräftig). Just recently, in September 2016, the German Supreme Court confirmed Hanning’s and Groning’s conviction. Newer interpretations of the law allow prosecutions against those who “supported the system of the killing machine”.
Former bookkeeper Oskar Groning is currently 95 years of age.
Best regards
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs