/ 11 February 2021

Far right horrors past and present

German authorities have charged a 100yo man with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder based on allegations he was a Nazi SS guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin between 1942-45. The man, whose name has not been disclosed in line with German privacy laws, is fit to stand trial despite his advanced age, prosecutors say. The move follows last week’s charging of a 95yo woman over her alleged complicity in the murders of 10,000 people. It’s claimed she worked as a secretary at the Stutthof concentration camp during WWII.

There’s no time limit on the prosecution of those involved – directly and indirectly – in the mass murder in Nazi concentration camps of more than 6 million Jews and 5 million others who were killed for their race, politics, ideology and ‘behaviours’. What has changed over time is the German justice system’s approach to pursuing those who worked in low-level positions’. The focus broadened following the conviction of John Demjanjuk in 2011. A guard at the Sobibor camp, he was in his 90s when a judge ruled that no one could have worked at a concentration camp and not be partly responsible for the atrocities. And while there has been some criticism over the pursuit of the elderly, others say the rise of far-right extremism has made it more important than ever.

Sadly, yes – as it is around the world. Last year, Heather Cook, the deputy director-general of intelligence service delivery at national security agency ASIO, told a parliamentary inquiry that right-wing extremism now accounts for 30-40% of its counter-terrorism work, up from 10-15% before 2016. Also close to Oz, the Christchurch mosque attacks were a big wake-up call. As a result, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton launched a high-powered parliamentary inquiry into ‘extremist movements and radicalisation’ in Australia covering right-wing, Islamic and other forms of extremism in December. It is scheduled to report in April.

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