What Happened to Reinhold Hanning?

Published: 2016-06-26

Reinhold Hanning, 94, is a former sergeant and a guard at Auschwitz, who has been tried for 170,000 Counts of Accessory to Murder in Germany.

Reinhold Hanning

It was not hard to predict what the outcome would be. According to German Law, prosecutors were required to provide evidence that defendants were directly involved in the killings, as in any “normal” judicial system, but this changed after 2011, with the conviction of John Demjanjuk, when a judge concluded that his activities as a camp worker in Nazi-occupied Poland amounted to complicity in mass murder.

So now convictions are based on mere association. You just need to “have been there” in order to be exposed to true “justice” in the name of all those countless victims of the Holocaust. You must pay for all the atrocities committed more than 75 years ago even if they cannot prove that you had something to do with those purported deaths that, by the way, are not unambiguously murders, and there is no solid evidence that supports the particulars of the accusation itself; and you must not forget that it is not a great idea to try to defend like you would in any other trial; this could only be counter-productive in such case. You just better quietly wait for the verdict, hoping your lawyer does some magical work to get the best outcome for you. 

The more you get to know how German and other European courts can behave in such cases, the more you start thinking that this is just like one those absurd Kafkaesque worlds that should only exist in literature but yet they are actually real. Very real.

And according to the records of the last trials these courts, together, of course, with the entire set of laws and procedures that allow them to get away with what they do, get more and more absurd. It almost feels like these courts don’t belong in such developed democracies as the European ones. It feels like you enter a door to the star chambers of the Inquisition. 

Reinhold Hanning has been sentenced to five years in prison. There is no information yet whether he will actually serve time in prison because of his age.

According to The Guardian,

“The Hanning case has concentrated on the Hungary Operation, which took place over three months, from May to July 1944, when about 425,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland; 300,000 of them were gassed to death immediately on arrival… [really?]

And then the same article in the British daily says

“Prosecutors argue that the episode serves to underline the industrialized nature of the Nazi slaughter machine that depended on the participation of a massive network of people carrying out orders, however large or small. They have produced evidence that Hanning was in Auschwitz during the Hungary operation and is therefore directly implicated.”

Hanning's defense argued, this  you can find in The Telegraph,

“that his presence at the camp did not mean he was directly responsible for the murders, saying that the defendant had  personally never killed, beaten or abused anyone.”

Of course I agree with Hanning’s defense. But the court says otherwise

One thing one can be  observed in these trails is an agenda that seems to prevail, which is to have the accused , at the end of the trail, publically apologize for what he has “done” ,  Reinhold Hanning, said, again quoting The Guardian,

“I want to say to you that I’m deeply regretful at having belonged to a criminal organisation that was responsible for the death of vast numbers of people, for the destruction of countless numbers of families, for misery, torture and suffering on the part of the victims and their relatives. I am ashamed to have stood by and watched those injustices happen and to have done nothing to prevent them.”

This was about the only thing he said in court despite the demand of the veterans that testified in the trial. For example Orosz, one of the veterans testifying against Hanning said to The Guardian that “what mattered was what Hanning told the court about “what happened in Auschwitz, what he did in Auschwitz, what he saw in Auschwitz”, because it would go on record and “enter the history books, so that even if some people might say ‘the Jews are lying’ they will hear from the mouth of the Nazi what [actually] happened”.

So forcing the accused to recognize his guilt publicly and corroborating what the veterans tell in court seems to part of this “ritual” of “martyrdom” as was the norm centuries ago in a public plaza. This behavior illuminates further the similarity with the Inquisition–like style of  this type of trial and also seeks proof for their coerced historical interpretation of the Holocaust. And I think we are about to see more of that. Unfortunately.

Additional information about this document

Author(s) Roberto Hernández
Title What Happened to Reinhold Hanning?
Sources http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36560416 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/17/former-auschwitz-guard-reinhold-hanning-94-found-guilty-of-killing-more-than-170000-people/ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/17/auschwitz-guard-reinhold-hanning-jailed-holocaust-auschwitz http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/17/former-auschwitz-guard-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison/ http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/former-auschwitz-guard-reinhold-hanning-awaits-verdict-germany-n592951
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Dates published: 2016-06-26, first posted on CODOH: June 26, 2016, 9:10 a.m., last revision: n/a
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