Petty revenge in Germany

Germany is once again acting out of revenge, not reason or rationality.

The return of alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk to Germany for trial on war crimes was delayed again Tuesday by a federal court, shortly after six immigration officers removed the retired autoworker from his suburban Cleveland home in a wheelchair.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay until it could further consider Demjanjuk’s motion to reopen the U.S. case that ordered him deported, in which he says painful medical ailments would make travel to Germany torturous.

“If he is deported, if this madness and inhumane action is not stopped by the 6th Circuit, he will live out his life in a (German) hospital. He will never be put on trial,” he said. “It makes absolutely no sense that the Germans, after nearly killing him in combat, would try to kill him once again.”

The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center said it was undeterred.

“We remain confident that John Demjanjuk will be deported and finally face the bar of justice for the unspeakable crimes he committed during World War II when he was a guard at the Sobibor death camp,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Wiesenthal Center founder.

This absolutely is not about making someone “finally face the bar of justice” for anything. It is purely about revenge. This man may very well have done horrific things to many thousands of people, but putting him on trial and imprisoning him for the last few years of his life does nothing. It does not increase the safety of others. If the point of a judicial system is to simply punish, then we’re just being euphemistic about a desire for revenge.

People should only be brought to justice if doing that serves some actual purpose. If the ‘purpose’ is simply for the sake of justice, then there is no real reason beside either rule internalization or revenge. (It’s revenge in this case.) People need to rise above this pettiness – no matter how emotionally difficult – and work from principles. Anger, distress, sadness, and other emotions just take the blindfold off Lady Justice and threw dust and grime in her eyes.