The trial of Oskar Gröning and US military affiliations with Nazis

Oskar Gröning, a 93-year-old former SS guard at Auschwitz, went on trial in Germany yesterday, charged with being accessory to murder of at least 300,000 prisoners. Over a million people were murdered at Auschwitz, most of them Jewish & primarily in gas chambers. Fifty-five survivors & victims’ relatives are plaintiffs in the case.

Gröning does not deny witnessing the mass killings; in fact, he came to prominence refuting holocaust deniers, saying “I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria. I saw the open fires. I was on the ramp when the selections [for the gas chambers] took place.” He didn’t march them to their deaths in the gas chambers but prosecutors claim he accounted for their confiscated money & belongings. Close enough to the crime for prosecution.

Putting aside the legal difficulties of prosecuting him or the value of sticking a man on the threshold of death in prison, this case exposes the failure to prosecute Nazis who worked at concentration camps or served fascism in other capacities. One historian claims only 49 of 6,500 SS members who worked at Auschwitz were ever convicted & most sources blame the German judiciary for that. Of course Germany was occupied after the war & the political, economic, & legal affairs of the country were administered by the US, British, French, & Soviet armies.

The US occupation would give us a clue as to why so many Nazis walked away scot-free. It’s an open secret & an absolute abomination that the US military hired hundreds of Nazi scientists & doctors. Many of them were the psychos involved in human experimentation, responsible for developing chemical & biological warfare, the ones who proposed putting nuclear bombs on rockets, & guilty of war crimes. Does this partially explain affinities between Nazi ideology, the Pentagon & US militarism?

The US military spirited about 1,600 Nazis out of Germany, many with false papers, & gave them US citizenship. They put Nazis like Wernher von Braun, a leading figure in the Nazi rocket program, in charge of NASA, the new US space program. Herr von Braun got all sorts of accolades in his life, including from the Nazi regime & the president of the US.

Old man or not, Gröning probably should spend time in jail but there are a whole raft of others who should be exposed even if they’re too dead to prosecute. Eisenhower & Truman would be first among them.

There is a really cheery side to the prosecution of Gröning–who is two years older than Henry Kissinger. Time may not yet have run out to corner that warty old decrepit war monster & bring him to justice. The question of who will have prosecutorial jurisdiction out of the millions clamoring for justice remains open.

Unaccompanied children are the new face of immigration

Syrian refugee in Istanbul (Bulent Kilic:AFP:Getty) Apr 20 2015

It has long been observed on immigration routes across the globe that unaccompanied children are a massively growing part of immigration. In the past few years on the US southern border, about 70,000 unaccompanied children (mostly teens but some as young as five) were apprehended annually by border patrol & confined to detention centers. About the same number of families with children were apprehended. That means unaccompanied children represent nearly a quarter of immigrants apprehended trying to enter the US.

The same situation prevails on other immigration routes. On the Zimbabwe to South Africa route, 20 percent of undocumented immigrants are unaccompanied children. As in the US, those apprehended are kept in detention centers or deported. There are no reliable estimates of the percentage or numbers of unaccompanied children coming from the Middle East & war zones like Syria, Iraq, & Afghanistan except the observation that they are coming by the thousands & seeking asylum. These are not trafficked children, which is another very serious problem, but they do face extreme abuse & violence along the way.

The UN & refugee agencies have parsed immigration status into categories of legitimacy from those seeking asylum from war & civil conflict to “economic immigrants.” This malignant legal conceit is a way to exclude tens of thousands from sanctuary. But these legal maneuvers are falling apart & proving useless in the face of US-NATO wars & military interventions. How the hell can you tell an Afghan adolescent he has to be deported since he’s only an economic immigrant because US-NATO have emancipated Afghanistan? Women even have a nail salon there now. And there’s work in the brick factories & coal mines for kids.

If anyone fits the definition of asylum seekers it would be children & anyone coming from a war zone. But to show just how little authority those legal parsings have, the European Union (EU) & its naval goon squad Frontex pay no heed whatsoever & let everybody drown or deport those who don’t.

This Syrian child, who surely fits the image of the “wretched of the earth,” is begging on the street of Istanbul. He’s an adolescent, not yet a teen, & the EU doesn’t see this as a massive humanitarian crisis but rather as a policing problem!? The horrific accidents of the past several days are exposing the EU & Frontex as utterly barbaric & rotten to the core.

Immigration is a human right! Sanctuary is an ancient commitment of civilized people. If the EU isn’t up to it, then it’s time to take them down. Nothing trumps human rights. An injury to one of our little brothers & sisters is an injury to all.

(Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Please sign petition to European Union demanding emergency search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea

African baby immigrant (Alessandra Tarantino:AP) Apr 21 2015

This infant is one of the 100 immigrants, including 28 children, rescued Sunday from the boat capsize. There’s no indication either of her/his parents were among the rescued. Media reports 700 drowned but rescued immigrants claim there were 950 people on the boat so the actual death toll is quite a bit higher & a crime of catastrophic proportions. And it was not the only incident in the past few days. They’re still dragging bodies out of the water near the Greek island of Rhodes where a boat capsized.

European Union (EU) immigration policy (which polices the borders & does not rescue) is being exposed as barbaric & is coming under international fire. Media is helping it save face by blaming smugglers & traffickers, who are not without culpability, but the real problem is racist, xenophobic immigration policies. They’ve arrested two smugglers implicated in the recent incident but they haven’t yet hauled in any EU officials, without whom a prosecution would be incomplete.

Please sign & share this petition to the EU demanding emergency search & rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea:…

(Photo by Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

“Do You Hear The People Sing?”

The gruesome news of 1,100 drowned immigrants in just one week seems overwhelming. They were young & old, men, women, & children with dreams & possibilities now rendered irrelevant while their families grieve.

In writing a post on Spanish protests against the Gag Act I read of activists who held a flash mob at the parliament singing “Do You Hear The People Sing” from the ending of Les Miserables & I went to listen to it again.

It reminded me of 1974 when I took a train from Paris to witness the revolution against dictatorship in Portugal. I traveled with immigrants returning home for vacation (who taught me to ride outside the train crossing the Pyrenees & shared their food with me since I heard 12 hours when the ticket seller said it was 32 hours to Lisbon). Through them I met activists in the revolution including African activists from the former colonies. Every day we joined massive protests. It was extraordinary to witness a social revolution. That it’s incomplete is another matter but it was unforgettable to see human beings take their destinies into their own hands.

Most renditions of “Do You Hear The People Sing” are quite machista & martial, leaving women out when women have always been in the forefront of social justice–as they are among the first victims of tyranny. But an anthem of social revolt suits my dark mood today, regardless of this misrepresentation.