The emergency-like urgency of having to follow orders, one of several excuses 22 S.S. officers used as their defense when put on trial on
20 Dec 1963 in Frankfurt for having helped to commit mass murder at Auschwitz. “22 out of more than 8000, who together killed more than one million people,” said ZDF heute journal moderator Claus Kleber. “This trial marked the beginning of the end of the suppression of what happened during the war.”

One of many good aspects to the story of these Auschwitz trials is hearing again about the “fearless prosecutor,” Fritz Bauer, himself a concentration camp survivor. He forced people to start looking at what their government had done. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of that belated yet difficult undertaking, German news programs showed archival footage of court guards secretly saluting the defendants, the S.S. officers’ arrogant assertions that they weren’t aware what the killing machinery was for, that they’d forgotten about the deaths, that they were only following orders.

(Beh FAILS NOTE shtond.)

“Eine kluge Erinnerungskultur”

“A smart memory culture,” what every society needs to devise in order to teach new generations about the past. What history shall we share, how will we communicate it, how will we refresh it? The theme of this year’s Buber-Rosenzweig award was “Giving the future a memory” [“Der Zukunft ein Gedächtnis“]. In her interesting speech at the ceremony, Dr. Charlotte Knobloch talked about “eine kluge Erinnerungskultur.” She quoted Hessian general district attorney Fritz Bauer, whose hard work made the Auschwitz trials happen, as saying “Nothing belongs to the past. Everything is present-day and can become the future again” [“Nichts gehört der Vergangenheit an. Alles ist Gegenwart und kann wieder Zukunft werden.”] and called for mehr Mut! More courage.

(Eye neh   clue geh   err IN err oongs cool tour.)

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