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Auschwitz and the guilt of SS guards

Discussion in 'History & Genealogy' started by but'n'ben, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. but'n'ben

    but'n'ben Nemo Me Impune Lacesset

    Just been watching the BBC drama Auschwitz and it's as hard hitting as they come.

    Now, what I'd like people to tell me is whether or not they think the SS guards who are alive today should have gotten away with their crimes, as many did.

    I understand that many of these guards were only operating on orders and that many of them were emotionally destroyed by what they were being told to do. And in those circumstances it's kind of understandable that they were too terrified to say no to their commandants. At least that's their excuse.

    I've only watched the first episode, mainly because it's now 1:35am and I don't want nightmares but one ex-SS executioner was being interviewed. He was asked what went through his mind as he shot the woman and children standing on the edge of the pit. His reply was,

    'Nothing. I only thought 'maintain aim'.

    The interviewer asked if he felt any remorse and he shrugged while answering,

    "Nothing. They were Jews."

    The interviewer is clearly shocked and exclaims as to why he could murder woman and children without the slightest remorse. His reply,

    "Where I grew up, we saw what the Jews did to our livihood. I had no remorse because I have so much hatred. It's not the proper way of thinking but my thoughts on the matter will never change."

    In this circumstance, clearly not every SS guard was emotionally disturbed by his acts. There are accounts however of guards helping prisoners, and this is testified by Jews themselves. There were humane guards.

    So, do we tar every murderer with the same brush? Should the man above be treated differently because he admitted he had no remorse? Should the SS guard who did kill, yet the Jews testify to be a compassionate man, be treated with leniency? Or is it once a murderer always a murderer; it doesn't matter if he helped people as often as he could.

    To what extent does the fear factor among the guards explain the lack of remorse? Can it excuse their crimes?
  2. perplexed

    perplexed Senior Member

    You should refuse to commit evil and evil should be punished. Not really rational but that is the way I feel.

    A related question to this topic is
    If you were doomed would you want a guard to be sent to the russian front after a futile attempt to help you. "
  3. tvaughan

    tvaughan New Member

    First of all there were never any cases of German soldiers punished for refusing to kill civilians. It was purely voluntary. Second of all you can't believe everything the BBC says about WW2. Third of all it wasn't just the Germans who committed acts of murder; the allies (especially the Soviets) killed more civilians than the Axis nations, so to my mind consistency is important. If we are going to try Auschwitz guards, then we have to try a whole lot of other people. For instance Poland and Lithuania have been trying for years to extradite certain Jewish mass murderers from Israel, but Israel refuses to extradite them.
  4. Skyman87

    Skyman87 Mobilis In Mobili

    Yes, the SS (Schutzstaffel) I believe were primarily responsible for the concentration camps. These people were selected elite individuals. I guess not all of the Waffen-SS were responsible, as they were primarily a combat unit. If I'm wrong, please let me know.
  5. tvaughan

    tvaughan New Member

    Guards were mixed. You're right that the Waffen SS were primarily combat troops, but they were often given guard duty while recovering from injuries, etc.. At first they were elite, then later huge numbers were both drafted and accepted as volunteers. Half of the almost 1 million Waffen SS men weren't even German. There were Molsems, Turks, Mongols, Slavs etc...

    While Auschwitz was at times a death camp, there is a huge amount of misinformation out there. Treblinka for instance had the same death count as Auschwitz, but you never hear about it.
  6. armyman_83

    armyman_83 Guest

    Your right, as far as I know.
  7. chaplin's aid

    chaplin's aid New Member

    At this point in time anyone who commited crimes while in the SS are now are so old it seems pointless to me to punish them.
  8. Bamboo_Chicken

    Bamboo_Chicken Once a Steffi, forever a Bamboo Chicken Supporter

    United Ch. of Christ
    This was a result of the government brainwashing everyone in the first place. Sure, the Jews were well off, but they didn't deserve to be killed. However the hate that those Germans involved felt was because they had been taught their entire lives that Germany had been opressed, not just by the Jews, but by the entire world. No country likes to have their freedom suppressed, and when it happens, you will always get people trying to break free. We think nothing of killing spiders or cockroaches, and I'm sad to say that the Germans were taught that the Jews were just another pest that was standing in the way of their freedom. Many Germans, like my great-grandmother, even today refuse to believe that the Holocaust even happened because they were so brainwashed by the government.
    It's scary what can happen when the leaders abuse their power. Maybe one day we'll learn.
  9. jayem

    jayem Naturalist

    This doesn't address the moral question--but legally, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared the SS and Gestapo to be "criminal organizations." Membership in any such group was a crime, no matter what the person actually did. For legal purposes, guilt was assumed to be proven simply by being a member. Seems harsh by today's standards, but it's understandable given the enormous atrocities committed by the SS and Gestapo.