This week, efforts to lift the 52-year-old blanket of secrecy from this historical treasure are likely to take a big step forward. The 11-nation commission governing the International Tracing Service, an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross, meets in Amsterdam Monday and Tuesday to decide when and how to make electronic copies of its files available to researchers. ...But survivors have been pressing for direct access, unsatisfied with the formalistic and partial answers to questions about the persecution they suffered. So a year ago the commission decided to unlock the vast storehouse for research. (AP, 05.13.2007)
But even with survivors clamoring to have the archives in Bad Arolsen opened, one can discern a pattern of neglect and abuse. Just a cursory-glance at the billions owed to slave-laborers and victims of Nazi-confiscations will show you how serious German leadership is about reparations and justice. By the late-1980s, the excuse of "privacy" was becoming threadbare and insulting. It only took one of the 11-nation board to quash an opening of the archives over the years, and it was generally the German government who did that obstructing.
For the last 20 years, it was Germany who was doing the obstructing, allowing many of the guilty to escape justice let alone identification. Thanks to several German governments (frequently under the conservatives in the former-West Germany), Holocaust revisionism has proliferated throughout the developed world, even further-penetrating into the Middle East as evinced by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's (پايگاه اطلاع رساني رياست جمهوري ) comments denying the event ever occurred in December 13th, 2005. The Palestinian crisis hasn't helped either. Of course, the Nazis were spreading anti-Semitism throughout the region during WWII--the beginnings of the dissemination of the classic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Ahmadinejad:
"They have created a myth in the name of the Holocaust and consider it above God, religion and the prophets," Ahmadinejad said in an address carried live on state television. ...But Wednesday was the first time Ahmadinejad declared that the Holocaust had not happened, and the assertion served to further undermine Iran's efforts to persuade other countries that it can be trusted with its nuclear program. (Washington Post, 12.14.2005)
Comments like Ahmadinejad's don't deserve serious debate, and are not credible on any basis. We know full-well that the Shoah occurred, and to deny it betrays a desire to make it happen again, though this writer wagers it was classic "Jew-baiting" on the Iranian President's part, his regime has been in trouble for some time. Again, blame the outsider when your governance is being questioned. The opening of the archives should dispell most all of the myths, and ample documentation will be everytwhere on the internet soon through the ITS.
Again, why the scapegoating? In the case of skinheads, it's more complicated, and has more to do with the self-destructive behavior of the poor and miserable. Taking their class rage out on minorities is their lot, the burden of the damned. Like their predecessors under National Socialism, they want that Big Daddy to tell them when to eat and when to think, and it's almost understandable living in the uncertainties of this modern technological age. These uncertainties are very real in the former-East Germany and Russia, and a subsequent rise in skinhead and neo-Nazi groups is the result, frequently in a nationalist-context.
This brings us to another facet of protecting Nazi war criminals: Germany's death penalty and its genesis from 1948-49. Like the decision to keep the archives at Bad Arolsen closed based on "reasons of privacy," the laws created banning the death penalty were expressly designed to hide to identities of the guilty to shield them from allied and civil justice. Noting American programs that co-opted ex-Nazis like Operation Paperclip, most of the Western allies had no problem as long as it served the interests of power. We can assume that by now, most of the worst-offenders have passed from this existence. On Article 102:
But the actual history of the German death penalty ban casts this claim in a different light. Article 102 was in fact the brainchild of a right-wing politician who sympathized with convicted Nazi war criminals -- and sought to prevent their execution by British and American occupation authorities. Far from intending to repudiate the barbarism of Hitler, the author of Article 102 wanted to make a statement about the supposed excesses of Allied victors' justice. ...Meanwhile, there was little opposition in West Germany to capital punishment for ordinary criminals. A poll by the Allensbach Institute in February 1949 showed that 77 percent of West Germany's population favored it. The largest left-wing party, the Social Democrats, had a long anti-death-penalty tradition, but, given the political climate, it did not campaign on it. (Washington Post, 06.04.2005)In a real sense, skinheads and Aryan nations-types are useful in collaring the most radical elements of the Western subproletariat, and help serve a traditional role in governance that requires a scapegoat minority. For centuries, the Jews served as this minority, and one can be assured that Turks will fill this much needed void in governance. This is one reason why Turkey is being stalled in their bid for entry into the EU, but this is also a complicated story that involves their own human rights violations. However, anti-Turk racism certainly figures-in.
Some habits are hard to break. But the shielding of ex-Nazis can also be seen as part of an overarching policy in the postwar (Cold War) years to limit the spread of the Left in Western Europe, emboldened by their role in the resistance. Europe was radicalized by WWII, and for millions, the old-structures of power were delegitimized. Many ex-Nazis and fascists throughout Europe were utilized in the Cold War NATO program "GLADIO," paramilitary armies that were created to limit the Left, and a hypothetical Soviet invasion that never happened.
Preserving fascist-networks was counterintelligence and pacification of a radicalized Europe, and hiding the crimes of the expediters was crucial. Perhaps the Bader-Meinhof gang were right. The Bad Arolsen archives should have remained open from 1955-on. Germany hasn't done much to allay the fears of the world here, but who wants to face the fact that their grandfather murdered thousands of people? This writer would have, because wrong is wrong.
AP on the update to the opening of the Bad Arolsen archives (05.13.2007)
Der Spiegel on the opening of the Bad Arolsen, 04.19.2006:
The Washington Post on Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial (12.14.2005): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/14/AR2005121402403.html
"The Paradoxes of a Death Penalty Stance," The Washington Post, 06.04.2005: