It is part of society's obligation to the victims to make a serious effort to hold Nazi criminals such as Heinrich Boere to account
A resident of Maastricht, Netherlands, Boere, the son of a Dutch father and a German mother, volunteered to serve in the Waffen-SS shortly after the Nazis occupied Holland. After service on the eastern front he returned home, where he voluntarily joined Sonderkommando Feldmeijer, a unit whose primary function was the murder of members of the Dutch resistance and those opposed to the Nazis. In the course of Operation Silbertanne (silver fir tree), at least 54 individuals were killed, three of whom Boere admitted shooting to death – Fritz Bicknese, Teun de Groot and FW Kusters.
After the war, Boere escaped to Germany for fear of prosecution – and, in fact, was sentenced to death in absentia by a Dutch court in 1949 for the three murders. Holland asked for his extradition from Germany, but he was the beneficiary of the Fuhrererlass, a law promulgated by Hitler granting German citizenship to foreign Nazi collaborators. Since Germany refused in principle to extradite its citizens to stand trial in other countries, Boere had no reason to fear the Dutch court. He could, in theory, have been prosecuted in Germany, but for more than five decades that was not the case. In this respect, he was spared by the unofficial local prosecution policy on Nazi war criminals, which usually refrained from prosecuting individuals who were not officers, even if they had personally committed murder.
About two years ago, however, the state attorneys in Dortmund, headed by Ulrich Maas, announced that they would seek to prosecute Boere and they successfully contested a decision that he was not fit for trial. And thus, in November 2009, the Dutch executioner found himself in a German court facing the charges which he had escaped for more than 60 years.
Boere's conviction and life sentence are therefore more than justified, but they are also highly significant for several additional reasons. The first is that the Boere case is a precedent for Germany, where there are other instances of foreign Nazi collaborators who escaped from their countries of origin for fear of prosecution and who have hereto never faced legal action in Germany. The most famous of these cases are those of a Dutchman, Klaas Carl Faber, and a Dane, Søren Kam. The former, like Boere, served in Sonderkommando Feldmeijer and was sentenced to death in Holland in 1947 for the murder of at least 11 individuals. In 1952, he escaped from a Dutch prison to Germany, which has refused all requests for his extradition and has so far failed to bring him to justice. The latter, who is accused of murdering Carl Clemmensen, a Danish anti-Nazi newspaper editor, also escaped to Germany and was treated in the same manner. Thus Boere's conviction will hopefully serve as a precedent which will be applied in additional cases.
Several more personal factors specific to the Boere case add to its significance. The first is that he never expressed true regret for his crimes. On the contrary, at his trial, he said openly that he was very proud to have been accepted as a volunteer for the Waffen-SS and that during the war, at no time did he ever feel he had committed any crimes. His defence of coercion based on "superior orders" was totally rejected by the court. In that respect, it was the son of his victim Teun de Groot (the oldest of 12 children who has the same name as his father), who astutely remarked to reporters that if Boere had truly been sorry for the murders he committed, he should have returned to Holland to face justice and serve his punishment.
The presence in the courtroom in Aachen of children of Boere's victims was also an opportunity to learn first hand of the devastating impact of his crimes on the families of those murdered. And their insistence that he be tried despite his age reinforces the significance of justice, even when long delayed, as part of the obligations of society to the Nazis' victims to make a serious effort to hold Holocaust perpetrators accountable. This elementary truth and the successful result of the proceeding send a powerful message that the efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice are still very worthwhile and just as necessary today as they have been in previous generations.
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Our intention is to inform people of racist, homophobic, religious extreme hate speech perpetrators across social networking internet sites. And we also aim to be a focal point for people to access information and resources to report such perpetrators to appropriate web sites, governmental departments and law enforcement agencies around the world.
We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.
We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.
Saturday, 27 March 2010
What could be more European than a castle? The Continent is dotted with them, often menacingly perched on forested hilltops overlooking rivers or ancient trading routes -- important bastions necessary for the defense of what developed into Europe's long and rich cultural tradition. These days, of course, European castles tend to be little more than bucolic tourist attractions. But it is perhaps no accident that a small palace in western Germany's former industrial heart has been chosen to host a convention ostensibly aimed at defending European culture. The castle in question is the centuries-old Horst Palace, a Renaissance structure in the Ruhr Valley city of Gelsenkirchen. The gathering is called, pointedly, the Anti-Minaret Conference. This Saturday, politicians representing right-wing conservative parties from across Europe will descend on the Horst Palace to discuss the dangers of Islam. Delegates from the Belgian nationalists Vlaams Belang will be there as will politicians from Geert Wilders's Dutch Party for Freedom, Pia Kjaersgaard's Danish People's Party and the Front National of Jean-Marie Le Pen. Others from Sweden, Austria and Eastern Europe are also on the invite list.
'Symbols of Radical Islam'
The hosts are a relatively new group of German right-wing conservatives called Pro-NRW (an abbreviation of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia) and the goal of the conference is clear: to follow in Switzerland's footsteps and ban minarets across Europe. And they want to use a provision of the European Union's new Lisbon Treaty to do it. "I don't think that minarets are part of our heritage," conference attendee Filip Dewinter, floor leader for Vlaams Belang in the Flemish parliament, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "They are symbols of radical Islam. The question is whether Islam is a religion like Protestantism and Catholicism and for me it is not. It is a political system, it is a way of life and it is one that is not compatible with ours." Pro-NRW and the other right-wing parties were galvanized when Swiss voters last November passed a ban on the construction of new minarets in the country. Since then, the Swiss People's Party (SVP), which launched the referendum, have become the darlings of the European right. Indeed, the SVP has loaned their controversial campaign poster, which depicts missile-like minarets jutting out of a Swiss flag behind an ominous, niqab-wearing Muslim woman, to Pro-NRW for its campaign in Germany. And anti-minaret movements on the Swiss model have sprung up around Europe. Dewinter has recently taken a closer look at whether a provision in the new Lisbon Treaty allowing for citizens' initiatives could be used to push through a Europe-wide ban on the construction of minarets. On Saturday, delegates at the Anti-Minaret Conference will discuss whether to begin collecting the 1 million signatures such a path would require.
'A Very Powerful Weapon'
The hurdles to such a strategy are high. Even if the Lisbon Treaty provides for citizens' initiatives, the legal mechanism governing such a procedure has yet to be decided on. Indeed, with the European Commission first set to send its proposal for citizens' initiatives to the European Parliament for consideration next week, a final legal framework may not be complete before the end of the year, an EU spokesman said. Even then, such an initiative would only require the Commission to take a closer look at a given issue. Should the commissioners determine that an initiative falls under the jurisdiction of European nation-states or violates EU human rights guidelines, no further action would be taken. Nevertheless, Dewinter seems invigorated by the possibility of putting a minaret ban on the European agenda. "Brussels is afraid of such a referendum and they know it would be a very powerful weapon in the hands of right-wing conservative parties," he says. "The collection of the signatures will be a political campaign in itself." Still, the planners of this weekend's conference have greater ambitions than merely discussing the possibility of a European-wide minaret ban. Pro-NRW, an outgrowth of the anti-Muslim group Pro-Cologne, is seeking to establish a political foothold in Germany ahead of important state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia in May. The group is testing the waters to determine if the kind of populist, Islamophobia that groups in the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and elsewhere have tapped into exists in Germany as well. "The Islamization of our cities is continuing and there is broad fear among the populace," Pro-NRW head Markus Beisicht told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "If we do well in the elections, 2.5 percent of the vote or better, we will become a new brand name in Germany. There is a huge vacuum between the (far-right extremist) NPD and the (center-left) Christian Democrats and we want to fill it."
'Attacking Its Weakest Victim'
There is some evidence that he is right. A SPIEGEL survey last December found that, were a minaret referendum held in Germany, 44 percent would vote in favor of a ban while 45 percent would not. On the other hand, the majority of Germany's 4-million strong Muslim population has Turkish roots and has tended not to produce the kind of radicalism that has thrown a negative light on Islam elsewhere in Europe. That, though, has not stopped Pro-NRW from depicting Muslims as being violence-prone and aggressive. In addition to Saturday's conference, the group is staging vigils in front of mosques throughout the region, beginning on Friday. A planned march is to end in front of the huge Merkez Mosque in Duisburg. Police, though, are bracing for counter-demonstrations, with leftist groups having indicated ahead of the conference that they planned to disrupt it. Local politicians are likewise unimpressed. North Rhine-Westphalia's interior minister, Ingo Wolf of the Free Democratic Party, has described the "Pro NRW" gathering as "dangerous for our democracy." Cloaked as a legitimate movement, he said the right-wing group was fomenting fear of foreigners with its "anti-democratic and xenophobic ideology." Sigmar Gabriel, the head of Germany's center-left Social Democrats, spent Friday touring mosques in the Ruhr region in order to counter the intolerant message sent by the anti-minaret meeting. "The truth is that anyone who wants to ban minarets and compares Islam with terrorism is motivated by xenophobia." Beisicht is careful to insist that he and his allies have nothing in common with neo-Nazis, and he even tries to strike a moderate tone on occasion. "Religious freedom also applies to Muslims," he says, before insisting that minarets were a symbol of aggression. Ahead of Saturday's conference, however, his European allies were not in such an accommodating mood. "Islam is a predator and it is attacking its weakest victim," Dewinter says. "Europe is that weakest victim. We have a problem with our demography; we have a problem with our identity; we are embracing multi-culturalism. We are very weak and Islam knows that -- and it is going on the attack."
But the owner of an eclectic curiosity shop in a trendy Montreal neighbourhood makes no apologies about wanting to sell the item — a rarity that has caused a mini-storm in the Jewish community.
Botines, a Spanish-born Jew who has operated the quirky boutique since 1967, said Friday that no one in his family wants the soap or other controversial war-era items.
So the feisty store owner has decided, given his advanced age and weakening health, that it is time to sell the soap that he bought at top dollar from a retired Canadian soldier.
"I’m 73 and I was collecting things from the Holocaust and from World War II because I belong to that period," Botines said in an interview Friday in the cluttered shop.
"In my lifetime I got a lot of curiosity items — that is, things that are hard to find . . . and my things, my children, they don’t have any interest."
But Botines is adamant he’s selling a collectible item and not hateful ideology.
After reporters began descending on the store Friday morning, the controversial bar of soap was put aside.
Botines said it can now be seen only by serious collectors or those willing to pony up the starting asking price of $300.
"It’s my soap and I’m free to do anything I want with it," he said.
CBC initially reported the existence of the beige bar of soap alleged to be from Poland from about 1940.
Different Jewish groups have raised concerns about the sale of the Nazi-era soap purportedly made from Holocaust victims. They agree that selling the object is offensive.
B’nai Brith Canada sent a representative to the shop on Friday and said it would like Montreal police to investigate.
At best, Jewish community groups said the soap and other Nazi-era objects belong in a museum to be used as educational tools.
"The only appropriate place for such items is a museum where they’re serving a public education purpose," said Anita Bromberg, B’nai Brith’s legal counsel, from Toronto.
Botines said the items are historical and prove the Holocaust actually happened.
His son Ivan, who-co-owns the store, doesn’t like having the soap around but respects his father’s wishes.
"We’re not doing this to promote ideology," said Ivan Botines. "We want people to be conscious of this period, not to forget it."
Both father and son have been careful and have refused to sell items to neo-Nazis in the past.
In 2009, B’nai Brith had five complaints across Canada about the sale of controversial items on the Internet and in flea markets, No charges were laid.
It is not illegal to sell items bearing a swastika in Canada.
Town Hall bosses last night revealed the final cost to the town of preparing for and clearing up after the English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism rallies.
The figure — which is almost double what they thought it would cost—comes on top of the £300,000 in taxpayers’ money needed to police the demonstrations.
And, as reported in The Bolton News, economists believe the protest could have cost the business community as much as £3 million.
The council used the money to put up metal barriers around the Town Hall square to contain protesters.
Every child in the borough also received a letter urging them to avoid the town on the day of the protests.
There was then the huge cleanup operation following the rallies.
Bolton Council chief executive Sean Harriss said: “The preparation for the EDL and UAF demonstrations involved significant and extensive planning by the council.
“On the day, we were responsible for a variety of areas including the provision of the barriers, road closures and providing positive activities for young people.
“All the costs surrounding the demonstrations are being met from the council’s contingency budget, which has already been set aside for such events.”
Before the event, Town Hall chiefs estimated the cost to the taxpayer would be somewhere between £30,000 and £50,000.
About 150 council staff were on duty in a variety of roles, including stewarding, manning emergency control rooms, liaising with the community and street cleaning.
The authority spent £3,500 on the clear-up operation, with 52 staff spending more than four hours cleaning the streets of the town centre and ensuring it was business as usual on Sunday.
Police chiefs put 1,300 officers and staff on to the streets of Bolton for the event, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Large numbers of police, including mounted officers and dog handlers, were needed to maintain order.
But the greatest cost came to businesses in Bolton which lost an estimated £3 million, as shoppers stayed at home.
Many stores rolled the shutters down for the day or boarded up their windows, as more than 3,500 protesters descended on Victoria Square.
Businesses that did remain open said they lost about 80 to 90 per cent of their takings.
This is lancashire
Probation officer Allan Robertson, 48, of Pontypridd, throttled Michael Bitti then punched him in the head.
He wrongly believed Mr Bitti, 42, was a rival Arsenal fan and started a row with him in a London pub toilet.
Robertson was sentenced to nine months, suspended for two years, at Blackfriars Crown Court.
He was also given a 12-month supervision order and banned from football matches for three years.
The married father-of-three had been found guilty of racially aggravated assault at a previous hearing.
Judge Deva Pillay said Robertson attacked insurance underwriter Mr Bitti without warning and without any provocation whatsoever.
"I have no doubt that you attacked him because you thought, wrongly as it turned out, he was an Arsenal supporter," said the judge.
"Having pushed him against the far wall of the toilet and having committed that initial assault you resumed that attack once one of your associates had entered the toilet and blocked the exit door.
"This was a cowardly attack upon an innocent man which resulted in injuries. So traumatised was Mr Bitti that he has not since attended an away game.
"I continue to fail to understand what madness possesses you and many others like you who normally live respectable and responsible lives to lose self control and responsibility, and descend into this kind of anarchical behaviour."
Robertson was also ordered to perform 100 hours unpaid work, and the judge added: "You know what that means, being a probation officer."
'Looking for trouble'
The court heard Robertson had resigned from his job and the case had left him facing financial ruin.
His wife and two of his grown-up daughters were in tears throughout the hearing.
The jury had been told Robertson was "charged up and looking for trouble" when he assaulted Mr Bitti at the Phibbers pub in Islington on 16 February last year.
Following the incident, Robertson went to the Emirates Stadium to watch Cardiff lose 4-0 to Arsenal in an FA Cup replay.
He was photographed at the stadium making obscene gestures and behaving like a thug, the jury was told.
Robertson had travelled to London on a coach of Cardiff fans, including his niece and sister.
Exploded in rage
He drank three cans of lager during the journey and went with a small group to the pub for a drink later in the afternoon.
Robertson was said to have taken offence when he heard Mr Bitti talking to his son about whether trouble would "kick off" in the pub.
He assumed Mr Bitti was a rival, asked him about his comments and exploded in rage.
The court was told Robertson swore and racially abused Mr Bitti for being English, and attacked him in front of his teenage son.
Mr Bitti was badly bruised on his hip and head.
Robertson, who had worked for the probation service for 17 years, said he only pushed Mr Bitti out of his way because he had felt threatened, and denied he had uttered a racial slur.
Nick Baker, a district master of the Orange Order in Devon, is to contest Torridge and West Devon for the far right party.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has refused to comment on the issue.
However, Alliance MLA Anna Lo said: "I really think they should distance themselves from Nick Baker."
Describing the BNP as a "xenophobic, bigoted party", Ms Lo added "the Orange Order here should not want to have anything to do with his standing in this party".
"I certainly believe that they need to make it very clear that they have nothing to do with him and they don't support his views, they don't support him standing for the BNP for the next general election and the Orange Order here do not support racism," she said.
The order has said the issue was a matter for the Grand Lodge of England.
Its grand master, Ron Bather, told the Irish News newspaper: "As an institution we try not to interfere with the political views of any of our members.
"We're not a far-right organisation. We have members from all over the world but ore members are entitled to stand for whatever political organisation they so wish.
"It doesn't mean that the institution supports those views in any way."
On its website, the BNP describes Mr Baker as "a family man who is deeply concerned over the implications of economic decline and growing national debt which will burden generations yet to come.
"He is opposed to Britain's participation in the Afghanistan conflict and will campaign for the immediate withdrawal of our forces from that country."
Kier McElroy hit an Asian man with a banner in a shop doorway in Chapel Street, Luton, on 24 May last year.
Jurors at Luton Crown Court found McElroy guilty of racially aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm on student Venkateswara Muppalla.
He had earlier admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
However, he denied he was racist.
He also pleaded guilty to a second charge of affray, which resulted from his actions that day when he said he was drunk.
The assaulted Asian man was cornered by a group of people marching in protest over an earlier demonstration by a group of Muslims at a parade by the Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton.
The Times newspaper wrote a great item about this event in 2009. Inluding EDL's Paul Ray's involvment.
The item can be found Here