At Long Last, a Centenarian Nazi Is Brought to Justice

In his final words of advice to his son and successor Solomon, King David reminds him of the act of murder and treachery committed by Joab son of Zeruiah. “Do therefore according to thy wisdom,” says the dying monarch, “and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace”—that is, don’t let Joab die peacefully of old age. A similar admonishment, perhaps, can be offered to those skeptical about the utility of prosecuting the one-hundred-and-one-year-old Josef Schutze, whom a German court recently sentenced to five years in prison for being an accessory to the murder of 3,518 people in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Efraim Zuroff, who helped build the case against the former SS officer, notes that Schutze’s lawyer offered

a litany of all the usual arguments against the “belated trials,” the passage of decades since the crimes, the advanced age of the defendant, his ostensibly minor role (“small cog” argument) in the camp, and the fact that more culpable criminals were not held accountable. Schutze was then given an opportunity to address the court, but instead of arousing any sympathy, he was pathetic, claiming that he had no idea why he was put on trial and claiming to have been a law-abiding citizen all his life.

Thus the main drama was to take place the next day, Tuesday, when Judge Udo Lechtermann would deliver his verdict. . . . He referred to the documents which proved that [Schutze] served in Sachsenhausen, including for example a letter written by his parents to friends that their son was “with the SS in Oranienberg,” the site of the concentration camp. He then presented a concise summary of the horrific crimes committed there, identifying the various groups of victims: Jews, Roma, homosexuals, socialists and other opponents of the Nazi regime—who were among the estimated 55,000 victims executed by experiments, forced labor, shooting, and inhumane conditions of hunger and disease, noting the importance of the role played by SS guards like Schutze.

So little justice has been achieved in Germany when it comes to Nazi crimes, and so many important figures in the implementation of the Final Solution have escaped punishment, that there are many people who scoff at victories like the one in this case. My approach is that even minimal justice is better than no justice. Anyone who saw the faces of the relatives of the victims of Sachsenhausen (who under German law can join the prosecution) when Schutze was convicted, will understand that the closure they felt when he was convicted is priceless.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Holocaust, Holocaust trials, King David

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security