The last remaining World War II Nazis are living comfortably at residence in Germany, main regular lives and, in some cases, are nonetheless happy with their participation in one in every of world historical past’s greatest atrocities.
In the chilling new documentary “Final Account,” out Friday, British director Luke Holland, whose grandparents had been killed in the Holocaust, interviewed a number of former Nazis about their reminiscences of the murderous Third Reich. It took him 10 years to trace his aged topics down and seize them on movie. And Holland himself died in June shortly after finishing his film.
Deemed functionaries reasonably than battle criminals by the German authorities, these former medics, SS officers and focus camp guards had been capable of return to their communities after World War II as if nothing had occurred.
For lots of them, “nothing” is the operative phrase immediately.
“The majority of those under Naziism said after the war, again and again, firstly ‘I didn’t know,’ secondly ‘I didn’t take part,’ and thirdly, ‘If I had known, I would have acted differently,’ ” Klaus Kleinau, a remorseful member of the Waffen-SS, the army department of the SS, stated within the doc.
Kleinau believes this to be a widespread delusion. “Everybody tries to distance themselves from the massacres committed under Naziism, especially those of the final years. And that’s why so many said: ‘I wasn’t a Nazi.’ ”
The interviewees principally started their participation with the Nazis after they joined the Jungvolk, a compulsory program for boys between the ages of 10 and 14. After that, they superior to Hitler Youth or the feminine equal, the League of German Girls.
A few regarded again fondly on these days, like they had been at a contented summer season camp.
“This is my Hitler Youth membership card,” stated Hans Werk, who finally grew to become a part of the Waffen-SS. “I joined the Jungvolk at the age of 10 and received this. I joined on the first of May 1937. Even before I was 10 years old. I couldn’t wait.”
An unnamed lady added: “We didn’t support the party. But we liked the uniform. We went along with it, because we enjoyed it — putting on the uniform and going on marches.”
But the innocence was a ruse. From a younger age, they had been being taught to hate.
“We learned to read with the normal alphabet book, but we also had a Jew-themed alphabet book,” Werk stated. “It had a caricature of a Jew for each letter. I remember one in particular: A butcher’s shop that was really greasy and filthy. A disgusting Jew with dirty long hair and a hat, behind the counter. Next to him, a blond German girl with a white apron. He had his hand where it shouldn’t be.”
Although many topics expressed disgrace for his or her function within the Holocaust, others have no regrets in any respect. When one nameless man remembered calling guards from the Bergen-Belsen focus camp to carry again escaped Jewish prisoners who had been hiding in his farm’s pigsty, he laughed.
Asked if he nonetheless “honors” Adolf Hitler, Karl Hollander, a former SS lieutenant who saved his swastika badges, stated, “I still do. The idea was correct … I don’t share the opinion that they should be murdered. They should have been driven out to another country where they could rule themselves. This would have saved a great deal of grief.”
Kurt Sametreiter of the SS additionally stood his floor.
“The Waffen-SS had nothing to do with the terrible and brutal treatment of Jews and dissidents and the concentration camp,” stated Sametreiter. “We were front-line soldiers … I have no regrets, and I will never regret being with that unit. Truly not. A camaraderie like that … You could rely on every man 100%. There was nothing that could go wrong. That was the beauty of it.”
When requested if six million Jews had been killed through the Holocaust, Sametreiter denied it.
“That’s a joke,” he stated. “I don’t believe it. I will not believe it. It can’t be. Today they say — ‘Excuse me, but it’s the Jew who puts it like that.’ The scale that is claimed today, I deny that, too. I deny it. It didn’t happen.”