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04.09.2013

Roman Kent, Auschwitz Survivor and President of the International Auschwitz Committee: Nazi Prosecutions – An Unmistakable Warning

 
 
Roman Kent, Auschwitz survivor and president of the International Auschwitz Committee © Boris Buchholz

Roman Kent, Auschwitz survivor and president of the International Auschwitz Committee

 

 

 

How can there be a Statute of Limitations for Nazi crimes against humanity which were of such enormous gravity and those who participated not be brought to justice and pay the price for their terrible crimes no matter how late?

No survivor, and for that matter no one, should conclude that at least the ones who took part in inflicting such unspeakable suffering should be allowed to evade justice merely because of their prolonged success in eluding detection.

When one refers to the victims who died in Auschwitz and other concentration camps, we should know that they did not really “die” as such. Here again, they were brutally killed, murdered, and burned to death in crematoria.

For all intents and purposes, by using passive, less offensive words, we have lessened the outrage that should exist, and in effect we are protecting the perpetrators who performed these dastardly deeds. Surely there is a great deal of difference between simply stating that someone died when in reality he or she was murdered or brutally killed. By using sanitized words, we are unknowingly helping the deniers of the Holocaust.

It is a mistake to down-play the extreme genocide committed by the Germans. By diluting the facts of how 6,000,000 actually died, it will be quite natural for people reading about the Holocaust fifty or a hundred years from now to assume that the six million died. After all, everybody has to die. As such, tragically the crimes and brutal acts perpetrated could somehow be nullified.

Sanitizing the cruelties of the Holocaust should not be condoned. It is essential for now and for future to describe the events as they really were so that with the passage of time they will not be totally distorted.

In addition, there is also an important reason to pursue the Nazi criminals, namely to help prevent the repetition of such ghastly crimes. The Nazi prosecutions send an unmistakable warning to would-be perpetrators that if they dare to act and commit mass murder there is no real chance for them to get away Scot-free.

They must know that the civilized world will pursue them for the rest of their lives if necessary, and to the farthest corners of the earth. The continued prosecutions of Nazi criminals send a uniquely powerful deterrent precisely because of the passage of time. It shows that even after seventy years the world has not ceased to attempt to locate and apprehend those who have the blood of innocent people on their hands.

Yes, it is more than important that there be no Statute of Limitations for crimes against humanity; it is imperative that one and all know that international laws are supposed to protect the world’s racial, religious, and ethnic minorities. If this is embedded in our minds, it will be in no small measure due to the extraordinary efforts of the pioneers of the Nuremberg Trials.

With the emergence of deniers, it is more crucial than ever to keep alive the precise meaning of the Holocaust so that it does not diminish with the passage of time.

For this reason, it was especially significant that the United Nations acknowledged the existence of the Holocaust by holding a formal commemoration. In a way, this official commemoration by the United Nations, a body representing all nations, was a reply to the world at large and to all the deniers in particular that the Holocaust is indeed a part of our history.

We survivors are grateful to the United Nations for such worldwide recognition, though it was sixty years in coming. Yet, recognition by itself is not enough. We survivors dare not forget the millions who were murdered, for if we were to forget, the conscience of mankind would be buried alongside the victims.