judging the past?


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SSN Vet
October 18, 2006, 09:45 AM
News story......

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Federal authorities have freed a former Nazi concentration camp guard after failing to find a country to take the 81-year-old retired toolmaker who had been stripped of his U.S. citizenship.

In January, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, upheld a decision to take away Johann Leprich's citizenship.

On Sept. 18, Leprich's lawyer asked U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to order Leprich released, citing a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring the freeing of those who have not been deported within six months of a removal order.

The Justice Department said it released Leprich on Monday because Romania, Hungary and Germany refused to accept him, despite high-level meetings with officials from those countries, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Leprich was jailed in 2003 after agents found him hiding in a secret compartment in his family's home in Macomb County's Clinton Township, about 20 miles northeast of Detroit.

Leprich is an ethnic German born in Birk, Romania, in 1925. In 1943, he joined the Nazi military organization Waffen SS and served as an armed guard at Mauthausen concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Austria, court records say.

About 119,000 people were killed at Mauthausen. They included political prisoners, Spanish civil war veterans, Soviet, Dutch and Czech prisoners of war and Jews.

Leprich immigrated to the U.S. from Germany after World War II and became a U.S. citizen in 1958. But he fled to Windsor, Ontario, in 1987 shortly before a federal judge revoked his citizenship for hiding his Nazi party membership.


My commentary.................

I saw a program that described how the Waffen SS used it's reputation as an elite fighting force (akin to the USMC) to recruit in eastern Europe (Czechs, etc...) and then sent these under trained warm bodies to do their dirty work in the concentration camps, freeing up their best soldiers for combat.

I don't think one should underestimate the allure that a strong sense of "esprit de corps" has on young men.

I just recently read that this is the #1 reason why soldiers are re-enlisting to go back to Iraq. They may think the war really stinks, but they know they'll never match the "experience" of being on the A-team in a very hard situation.

Stephen Ambrose wrote that this sense of loyalty to their buddies was the real glue that motivated U.S. troops in combat, during WWII. Even though they had strong idiological reasons to fight, it was personal loyalty that kept them going in the face of extreme adversity.

In Viet Nam, the US Army made the huge mistake of rotating individuals out within a unit, and lost the "glue". They've learned their lesson and aside for emergencies, they only rotate entire units now.

Once these "kids" (the guy was 18 when he "enlisted") were duped into joining the Waffen SS (if not flat out conscripted at gun point), how much "choice" did they have to disobey orders? Summary courts martial followed by a firing squad were SOP!

Even Dietrich Bonhoeffer's seminary students were forcefully conscripted into the Weirmarcht....and they were following one of the few German leaders to openly oppose Hitler. Even the Pope was conscripted into an anti-aircraft unit at age 16.

Unless one has personally experienced this kind of catch 22, chosen iaw. moral principles and lived to tell about it, I'm not sure they have any business throwing stones. We seem to have lost all sense of history and fail to make any attempt to "walk a mile in someone elses shoes". It's just two easy to be an arm chair quarterback, with a bag full of rocks in a glass house these days....scoring political points by blasting souls who are affilitated with a "safe to condemn" issue. It seems that very little critique and analysis is ever even attempted.

If Leprich was one of the sadistic monsters who delighted in torturing and tormenting those imprisoned in Mauthausen, then he should be tried and hung. But if he was one of the many average Joes (Hans?) who stood watch in a gaurd tower....he's probably got enough ghosts haunting him already.

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LaEscopeta
October 18, 2006, 10:00 AM
Leprich was jailed in 2003 after agents found him hiding in a secret compartment in his family's home...Now there's some irony for you.

deadin
October 18, 2006, 10:14 AM
But if he was one of the many average Joes (Hans?) who stood watch in a gaurd(sic) tower

Didn't you know? They all just stood duty in the guard tower. Oh, and there were no members of the Nazi party that survived the war.:rolleyes:

DesertShooter
October 18, 2006, 10:43 AM
Oh, HOW ironic! I'm usually for "forgiveness", but that man's actions was a "story" in itself! By hiding, that was almost as good as ADMITTING his guilt!

I wonder why they didn't try to ship him to Paraguay, Argentina or Brazil? There are STILL elderly Nazi's living free there, and they'd probably give him a "hero's" burial when he dies!
Instead, our tax dollars will be given to him in the way of "SS" funds.....Social Security!

Phil DeGraves
October 18, 2006, 10:47 AM
Put him on a raft and push him offshore. Who cares if no one else wants him? That's not our problem. Just get him out of here.

ID_shooting
October 18, 2006, 10:52 AM
I am tossed on my views. I do understand the "Nuremberg" defence, but it all depends on his personal involvment. Like was stated, was he a guard? cook? clerk? or was he a hardened exicutioner?

They have good records as to who did what in Nazi Germany. Just becuase one was a member of the Nazi party does not make them a war criminal, after all, Schindler was a Nazi in good standing. I do not buy not divulging his war-time service as a reason to deny citizenship. Would you have said anything? How many people have changed thier names comming into the country after WWII?

If there is enough evidence to convict him, let him have his day in court. If not, let him enjoy his retirement.

real_name
October 18, 2006, 11:00 AM
I'm relatively sure that at this late stage in his life he has had plenty of time for reflection and regret on the actions of the ideaological young man that he once was.
I'm sure he has spent nights awake sweating as he remembers the camp, and paranoid days spent furtively hoping nobody realises his past.
But just to be sure I think any surviving Nazis, such as this person, should be obliged to visit the Holocaust Center in Israel.
There are two sides to every story and if any Nazis still out there are misguided enough to still think that they were justified then maybe the best thing to do with them is educate them.

SSN Vet
October 18, 2006, 11:52 AM
I'm no expert....but from what I've heard, the Israelis have given fair trials to these types.....

if they want to try him.....send him over....

if they don't condemn him....that says a lot.....

to many unanswered questioons to make the call....

Believe me, I'm no Nazi sympathizer......not in any way....

But in my mind, it's to "easy and neat" to lump them all into one category.

One of the unsung stories of WWII is how many non-jews were exterminated as well.....Christian leaders who spoke up, political opponents, peace activist (yes there really were German peace activist back then), you name it....anyone who didn't "get with the program" was in real danger!

The Nazis were extremely adept at terrorism in it's basest form. Their brown shirt gangs were dragging their political opponents out in the street and beeting the tar our of them in the 30's........they assasinated many, many of their political opponents.....often with their families, just to drive the point home.

I'd like to think that if I was a young man in Germany in the 1940's, I'd have the courage to oppose the Nazis.....but I'm not going to presume that I would. I've never been tested in such an extreme way.

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