"Prosecuting Grandpa ... "
You know where it says (at the base of The Statue of Liberty) “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door”, I wonder if it is too late to add a quick admonition that “Criminals, especially murderers of unarmed children, women and men, need not apply.”
One seldom hears of it these days. As unremarkable in every respect except for their participation in savagery, they were amongst the most wretched of war criminals, Germans and a variety of non-German eastern and Central Europeans, who began arriving on these shores seeking refuge in the years after the Second World War, beginning around 1949.
The world was awash with hundreds of thousands of displaced persons after the War: perpetrators, victims and perhaps quite a few folks who may have just gotten mixed in with the confusion of things.
Those who had once not long before played some role in the extermination of the Jews throughout Europe now sought refuge in the "land of the free and home of the brave".
When questioned by American immigration officials in the early years of the 1950(s) as to their whereabouts and activities during the recent world war, many claimed to have been on the lam from Soviet oppression while others claimed no knowledge of Nazi extermination camps. Basically, they all boiled down to the same lie: 'I was a peaceful man who sought no harm to anyone.'
It would be shown in later years that no better examples of what the English call "rubbish" could one expect to find within Emma Lazarus' "wretched refuse".
Desperate to enter this country at a time when the winds of war had shifted in their favor and abetted by a State Department culture that favored a Nazi over a communist, these post-war refugees, and notwithstanding their falsification of immigration information, proved very successful at entering the United States of America illegally.
Now among the victims were many exemplary human beings who had only recently survived a churban (a catastrophe) so unprecedented in the affairs of man that when those who chose to resettle the Holy Land first set foot onto "Palestinian" soil, the world watched with utter amazement as these "walking skeletons" joined in enthusiastically when called upon not only to rebuild Eretz Yisrael but defend her as well.
"Fast forward to our times ... "
A great many others preferred the "Goldeneh Medina".
Now we've come to a point in time when what can only be described as Kafkaesque-the remaining Holocaust survivors are dying of natural causes concurrently with those war criminals who have managed to remain undetected all these years later.
"Oh let them be, they're old and tired men," their apologists plead. “They’ve been good, industrious (naturalized) citizens, law-abiding folks. Besides, hasn't the statute of limitations run out?" they query disingenuously, fully aware there is no statute of limitations on murder.
The United States can deport people over evidence of involvement in Nazi war crimes, but cannot put such people on trial because the alleged crimes did not take place on American soil. Criminal prosecutions can only take place in the country in which the alleged crimes are said to have taken place.
Prosecuting these criminals is the only right thing to do. The argument made in their defense is a witch’s brew of self-serving sentimental claptrap and hatred.
While one can feel bad for the children and grandchildren of such men whom they may lovingly call their fathers and grandfathers, I am talking about that "nice, little old man sitting on a bench in the park surrounded by his grandchildren."
Hard to imagine? Try looking at it from this angle. What would you say if it became known that the elderly gentleman who lives on your block, gives your kids candy treats on Halloween and pats them on their heads as they walk to school is the same man who sixty years before, as a member of the Ukranian auxiliary police, aided invading Einsatzgruppe German soldiers in the collection and murder of thousands of Jewish children, women and men, young and old alike?
That's what we're up against in this kind of case. The other side's reliance on sentimentalism might even get to you after a while. Remain vigilantly on guard and recall what that "sweet little old man" did some sixty years before when, he did, by his own free will and actions, prevent "x" numbers of human beings ( Jews or non-Jews) from ever becoming old folks.
The most troubling questions for me are: from whom was this man so empowered that he should exercise dominion over anyone else's life but his own? Was it another failed human being, as much the misanthrope as he but with better connections, who rewarded him with the rank of "unteroffizier" (corporal) and gave him license, an armband and a weapon to kill anyone who did not march lockstep with the myriad masses of uniformed and armed robotic thugs?
The era of The Holocaust draws to an end, but its lessons and memories will never. And do remember that back then, it was not that there were no good people, just too damn few.