torsdag 21. mai 2009

Hitlers ivrige medhjelpere

On June 27, 1941, a colonel in the staff of the Germany's Northern Army Group in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas passed a petrol station surrounded by a crowd of people. There were shouts of bravo and clapping, mothers raised their children to give them a better view. The officer stepped closer and later wrote down what he had seen. "On the concrete courtyard there was blonde man aged around 25, of medium height, who was taking a rest and supporting himself on a wooden club which was as thick as an arm and went up to his chest. At his feet lay 15, 20 people who were dead or dying. Water poured from a hose and washed the blood into a drain."

The soldier continued: "Just a few paces behind this man stood around 20 men who -- guarded by several armed civilians -- awaited their gruesome execution in silent submission. Beckoned with a curt wave, the next one stepped up silently and was (…) beaten to death with the wooden club, and every blow met with enthusiastic cheers from the audience."

En ivrig litauisk bøddel.

There's also reason to doubt the assumption that the helpers were pathological sadists. If that were true, they should be easy to identify, for example within the group of 50 Lithuanians who served under the command of SS Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Joachim Hamann. The men would drive around the villages up to five times a week to murder Jews, and ended up killing 60,000 people. It only took a few crates of Vodka to get them in the mood. In the evenings the troop would return to Kaunas and boast of their crimes in the mess hall.
None of the Lithuanians had been criminals before. They were "totally and utterly normal," believes historian Knut Stang. Almost everywhere after the war, the murderers returned to their ordinary lives as if nothing had happened.
There's no identifiable type of killer -- that's a particularly disturbing conclusion reached by historians. The murderers included Catholics and Protestants, hot-blooded southern Europeans and cool Balts, obsessive right-wing extremists or unfeeling bureaucrats, refined academics or violent rednecks.
Tekst fra Der Spiegels engelske utgave. Et av tusentalls tilfeller, se oppsummering på kart nedenfor.

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