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Thread: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

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    Default 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    German ex-soldier convicted of WWII killings
    Former army officer, 90, found guilty in 1944 deaths of Italian civilians

    Joerg Koch / AFP - Getty Images
    Josef Scheungraber, 90, was convicted of 10 counts of murder on Tuesday.

    MUNICH - A 90-year-old former German army officer was convicted of murder Tuesday over the killings of Italian civilians during World War II, and sentenced to life in prison.

    The Munich state court convicted Josef Scheungraber on 10 counts of murder and also found him guilty of attempted murder.

    Scheungraber was a 25-year-old Wehrmacht lieutenant at the time of the June 1944 killings in Falzano di Cortona, near the Tuscan town of Arezzo. The killings came after partisans killed two German soldiers.

    Prosecutors alleged that after partisans killed two German soldiers, Scheungraber commanded his soldiers to shoot three Italian men and one woman. They said he then ordered that another 11 civilians be herded into a barn that was blown up. He was charged with 14 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

    Scheungraber, who was in command of a company of engineers, maintains he was not in Falzano di Cortona when the killings happened, but was in charge of overseeing reconstruction of a nearby bridge.

    His defense team called for an acquittal in their closing arguments in July, saying that there was no evidence of Scheungraber's personal guilt.

    Prosecutors acknowledged that there are no known living witnesses who heard Scheungraber give the order to kill the civilians. But they said he was seen in pictures at the burial of the two German soldiers for whose deaths the reprisals were carried out.

    Also, a former employee testified at the end of July that he remembered Scheungraber saying to him once in the 1970s that he couldn't visit Italy because of what had happened during the war, which had to do with "shooting a dozen men and blowing them into the air."

    The witness, whose name was only given as Eugen S., testified he did not remember Scheungraber saying he had given the order, though he said the defendant told the story "as if it were his decision."

    'I heard a scream'
    Perhaps the most dramatic testimony in the trial came in October from the sole survivor of the massacre, Gino Massetti, who was 15 when he was rounded up by German troops and herded into the barn before it was blown up.

    "I heard a scream, and that was it then," he said. "They were all dead."

    Massetti told the court that just before the barn was blown up, he saw a man he assumed was an officer drive up on a motorcycle and give what appeared to be an order to the others. But, he testified, he could not describe the officer at all and didn't understand what he had said because it was in German.

    He said that it was only down to luck that he survived — he was partially shielded from the blast after a heavy beam and a man fell on top of him. The other man also survived the explosion initially, but later succumbed to his wounds, Massetti told the court.

    From msnbc
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32369024...d_news-europe/
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Sounds like very flimsy evidence on the news report.

    One hopes that rather more convincing evidence was put before the court.

    The reported evidence wouldn't satisfy the 'beyond reasonable doubt' standard for criminal guilt in English-speaking legal systems.
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    I guess it's somewhat a political issue as well...a potential German war criminal -who was 'in absentia' sentenced to life by an Italian court in 2006- found not guilty in Germany...imagine the negative feedback for Germany...
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    I guess it's somewhat a political issue as well...a potential German war criminal -who was 'in absentia' sentenced to life by an Italian court in 2006- found not guilty in Germany...imagine the negative feedback for Germany...
    So, a former Axis officer has to be found guilty to avoid upsetting a former Axis ally which betrayed the Axis ally which supplied the conveniently guilty Axis officer after the Axis officer's Axis power pulled the treacherous Axis ally's nuts out of the fire in North Africa and the Balkans when the treacherous ally's nationalistic arrogance and ambition vastly exceeded its military skill and power and made a major contribution to the failure of the Axis officer's power's war effort.

    Yep, that sure is grounds for sacrificing a German officer for 'potential' war crimes to placate Italy about 66 years after pitifully ending its proud commitment to honourable war where the lives of innocent civilians were universally respected, starting with bombing and gassing the natives in Ethiopia, and on Mussolini's orders shooting any local partisans, a few years before Germany fired the first shot in its war.

    I don't remember a lot of Italians as defendants at Nuremberg or similar trials.

    However, the current idiotic situation does serve one useful purpose: It makes selected aspects of Allied victor's justice seem clear, bright, and noble.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 08-13-2009 at 08:29 AM.
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    So, a former Axis officer has to be found guilty to avoid upsetting a former Axis ally which betrayed the Axis ally which supplied the conveniently guilty Axis officer after the Axis officer's Axis power pulled the treacherous Axis ally's nuts out of the fire in North Africa and the Balkans when the treacherous ally's nationalistic arrogance and ambition vastly exceeded its military skill and power and made a major contribution to the failure of the Axis officer's power's war effort.

    Yep, that sure is grounds for sacrificing a German officer for 'potential' war crimes to placate Italy about 66 years after pitifully ending its proud commitment to honourable war where the lives of innocent civilians were universally respected, starting with bombing and gassing the natives in Ethiopia, and on Mussolini's orders shooting any local partisans, a few years before Germany fired the first shot in its war.

    I don't remember a lot of Italians as defendants at Nuremberg or similar trials.
    Hmmm... I hadn't thought of it that way, interesting points. Even if you weren't necessarily being serious.
    Last edited by navyson; 08-13-2009 at 08:45 AM. Reason: Additional Information
    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." - Ronald Reagan

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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    In Germany it seems that your Guilty before presumed innocent when you were in the Nazi party. God forbid that a jury might find the guy innocent. I would not be surprised at all if Germany started charging the offspring of the suspected war criminals, long after they have died because they have no more old farts to prosecute, for "being seen in a photograph" near a suspected atrocity site. I bet the 90 yr old guy even had his cat and dog charged with association of being with a suspected war criminal and gassed them too!
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by herman2 View Post
    In Germany it seems that your Guilty before presumed innocent when you were in the Nazi party.
    Scheungraber was convicted in relation to allegations of war crimes in Italy, not membership of the Nazi Party.

    Being a Nazi, or much worse a Nazi war criminal as membership of the Nazi Party didn't automatically make someone an evil person or guilty of bad acts, was a positive advantage for some favourably placed people after WWII and ensured that they were not prosecuted for being Nazis or war criminals, thanks to Allied and in particular American willingness to do deals with the devil for their own advantage.
    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB146/index.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by herman2 View Post
    God forbid that a jury might find the guy innocent. I would not be surprised at all if Germany started charging the offspring of the suspected war criminals, long after they have died because they have no more old farts to prosecute, for "being seen in a photograph" near a suspected atrocity site. I bet the 90 yr old guy even had his cat and dog charged with association of being with a suspected war criminal and gassed them too!
    Assuming that the gassing you're referring to is not the outpourings of old farts overwhelming cats and dogs, gassing became a politically unacceptable method of execution in Germany after WWII due to its rather indiscriminate use on innocent people during, but largely unrelated to, the war.
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by navyson View Post
    Hmmm... I hadn't thought of it that way, interesting points. Even if you weren't necessarily being serious.
    Serious? Moi!

    Actually, I was being serious.

    Every war crime and crime against humanity, and especially those against innocent civilians, should in theory be prosecuted and punished.

    But in practice the scale of events and the fact that there is often a large element of the pot calling the kettle black deprives each side of the moral authority to prosecute and punish only the other side without being equally vigorous with their own.

    Italy is in no position to claim moral superiority over Germany on WWII war crimes, unless one chooses to regard the lives of people in the Horn of Africa as unimportant. Which appears to be the case as Italy is no longer held to account for its war actions there when it was happily engaging in war crimes and crimes against humanity which have passed from memory in most places apart from that region. For which, as far as I'm aware, Italy has paid no compensation unlike other Axis powers have in various instances.

    If Italy wants Germans prosecuted and punished for war crimes or crimes against humanity against Italians it should be equally vigorous in prosecuting its own crimininals. If Italy won't, then it has no moral authority to demand that those who offended against its citizens should be prosecuted.

    Which doesn't put it in a much worse position that the Allied nations in relation to their prosecution of Axis people.
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Sounds like very flimsy evidence on the news report.
    I agree very flimsy evidence. This was a political move, let him out.

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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by mike M. View Post
    I agree very flimsy evidence. This was a political move, let him out.
    Ya I agree with you Mike. FLIMSY!...You would think Germany would have better democratic laws since the Nazi era. I bet that they even arrest you for Jay Walking in Germany! Next week you will read about a 105 year old woman who is charged with murder because a photo of her was seen half ripped showing her body only and the German Gestapo will claim that the body is a resembalance of her's thus she must of been the murderer.Oh Brother! Thank God I live in a Real Democratic country like CanadA!!
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Oh, and as I wrote in my other thread, I just found out that Mein Kampf is banned from Publication in Germany!...this whole attitude of repressing democractic freedoms like censorship just shows how off edge Germany has to go to hide from its past. I mean it's a stupid book. I have read it and I have 2 copies myself and I really don't see what the huff is all about. What next? Germany will start banning Bibles? I heard that Tom Cruise had problems entering Germany to complete his role in his recent movie because of his relationship to the Church of Scientology...Another example of repressive laws in Germany. hymph!
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by herman2 View Post
    Oh, and as I wrote in my other thread, I just found out that Mein Kampf is banned from Publication in Germany!...
    Germany had a very bad experience with 'Freedom of Speech'. This is why it is the public opinion that the Freedom of Speech has to be limited to certain degrees, especially if it commits an act of 'Volksverhetzung' (Hate-Speech or Incitement of the People). This is a very convenient law, as it allows the government to censor any voices that would end up disagreeing with the status quo of the system. One has to add, though, that this law is most commonly used in relation to the promotion of racism or fascism.

    Add to that that you have Politicians who grew up with the extreme 1968 Anti-Fascism movement, and you got yourself an explanation. The 68 movement was important in its time, as it highly reduced the chances of Germany falling back into Revanchism. But nowadays, these same people are at the head of the government, courts and media - and as old people tend to do, have lost touch with the people.

    They still feel like they're at that crucial point in 68, where there was a fight between a rebirth of German fascism and a social-democratic Germany, and in this paranoia, they (over-) act, excessively fighting and banning anything related - or even only associated - with the Right Wing. They seem to think that the German youth is always only 1 Medal or 1 Fascist book away from a Fourth Reich...

    this whole attitude of repressing democractic freedoms like censorship just shows how off edge Germany has to go to hide from its past.
    It's less about hiding the past than it is about a paranoid fear of repeating it.
    The fundamental problem of Democracy is that the majority of voters are idiots fueled by uninformed rage - and the Politicians do everything to cater to them.

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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Does Italy really count as one of the Axis powers? They surrendered in 1943 and it sounds as though the Italians were in general considerably less vicious than the Germans and Japanese and not very enthusiastic about the war. The Italians also fought against Germany and its allies from 1915 to 1918 and unlike Japan they suffered considerable casualties (c320,000-378,000 combat deaths).

    It just seems strange to argue that the Italians betrayed the Germans given that they had been enemies so recently and millions of Italians in the 1940s were old enough to have lived through the fighting against the central powers in 1915-18.

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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by Cojimar 1945 View Post
    Does Italy really count as one of the Axis powers?
    Yes. In November 1937 Italy signed the Anti-Comintern Pact established between Germany and Japan a year earlier, which was the formal foundation of the Axis powers. Italy was also one of three original signatories to the Tripartite Pact in September 1940.
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    Default Re: 90-year-old German ex-soldier sentenced to life in prison

    Quote Originally Posted by Cojimar 1945 View Post
    Does Italy really count as one of the Axis powers? They surrendered in 1943 and it sounds as though the Italians were in general considerably less vicious than the Germans and Japanese and not very enthusiastic about the war. The Italians also fought against Germany and its allies from 1915 to 1918 and unlike Japan they suffered considerable casualties (c320,000-378,000 combat deaths).

    It just seems strange to argue that the Italians betrayed the Germans given that they had been enemies so recently and millions of Italians in the 1940s were old enough to have lived through the fighting against the central powers in 1915-18.
    ....also keep in mind that Italy was an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary until the outbreak of WW1.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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