A former Nazi guard who spent much of the 1980s in jail for his actions during
World War II appeared in a German court on Monday, charged with the 1944 murder
of suspected Dutch resistance fighter Aldert Klaas Dijkema.
a Dutch-born member of the Waffen SS who acquired German citizenship while
serving as a German security and border guard in the Netherlands during World
War II, had previously been sentenced to seven years in jail for being accessory
to the murder of two Jewish brothers in April 1945.
He was sentenced by
the same court in which he is now being tried.
“The accused is alleged to
have taken Mr. Dijkema on the orders of his superior...
in a car near to
a factory,” the court wrote in a statement. “There, the accused and his
accomplice are alleged to have shot Mr. Dijkema four times.”
“He was hit
in the back of his head among other places and died immediately.
on, the accused and his accomplice admitted that Mr. Dijkema was shot as he
tried to flee,” the statement continued.
The trial is expected to extend
over 11 hearings until the end of September.
Bruins’s trial comes at a
time in which many of the Holocaust survivors and those who perpetrated crimes
during that time are elderly and dying. Efforts at identifying and prosecuting
elderly people accused of crimes committed during the Holocaust have met with a
mixed reaction in Germany.
Many Germans are keen to leave the dark legacy
of the Holocaust in the past and seal the post-war democratic identity of their
nation. Some find distasteful the pursuit of old men, often in poor health, for
crimes committed nearly 70 years ago.
Others say that it is never too
late and prosecution helps to fight those who still engage in denial and
distortion of the Holocaust.
In recent years, some German prosecutors
have begun to actively seek out surviving Nazis such as, the Simon Wiesenthal
Center’s chief Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff, told The Jerusalem Post
However, it is “almost impossible to generalize” regarding
Germany’s efforts in this respect due to the country’s “decentralized” judicial
system, he cautioned.
While in some provinces prosecutors have been
“proactive in bringing Nazi war criminals to justice,” in some parts of the
former East Germany “there have not been any Nazi war crimes investigations, let
alone prosecutions, in many years.”
There have also been cases of “Nazi
war criminals who are living in Germany who have been protected by the courts
from extradition and/or punishment, such as Soeren Kam,” Zuroff
Germany on several occasions has turned down Danish requests for
Kam’s extradition due to the Dane’s service as an officer in the SS during the
war, Zuroff said.
In July, the Simon Wiesenthal Center launched what it
called a Operation Last Chance II, a last-ditch campaign to bring Nazi war
criminals to justice.
Zuroff considers the campaign, which featured
posters and rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nazi
war criminals, to have been a success.
The public response, he said, was
more than he had been expected.
“We’ve received far more information than
we ever anticipated,” Zuroff said. “There are a few cases that look
promising and I’m going to Berlin next to meet with our researcher and to deal
with the next steps in terms of handling these cases.”
Such efforts have
prompted Jobbik, the third-largest parliamentary faction in Hungary, to call for
a ban of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Jobbik, which has been described as
a Neo-Nazi party by the World Jewish Congress, took issue with complaints made
by Zuroff following the raising of a banner praising recently deceased Hungarian
accused war criminal László Csatáry during a soccer match.
Szilagyi, a Jobbik MP, said Zuroff is leading a smear campaign and inciting
against Hungary while the party website accused the Simon Wiesenthal Center of
being a “direct and serious threat to national security.”
Zuroff stated that the call “to ban the Wiesenthal Center and expel its
non-Hungarian employees can be best described as the most convincing proof that
the center’s efforts to bring Hungarian Nazi war criminals and collaborators to
justice... have made an important impact in Hungarian society and are playing a
significant role in preserving the accuracy of the Holocaust narrative in
Asked about Jobbik’s comments regarding the Simon Wiesenthal
Center, a government spokesman replied that “the Hungarian government does not
comment on any political statements that fall outside the framework of the rule
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