Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nazi looted poster art must be returned

16 March 2012

Nazi looted poster art must be returned to Peter Sachs Peter Sachs began his legal fight in 2005 to retrieve the posters Continue reading the main story
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A Jewish man has won his fight against a German museum for the return of thousands of rare posters stolen from his father by the Nazis in 1938.
The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe ruled Peter Sachs, who now lives in the US, is the rightful owner of the posters.

The judges said that not returning the posters "would perpetuate Nazi injustice".

"I can't describe what this means to me on a personal level," Peter Sachs said.

'Rapid solution'

The Berlin museum said in a statement that it "accepts the ruling", bringing an end to the seven-year legal battle.

"Based on the ruling, the foundation will soon meet with Peter Sachs to arrange a rapid and mutually agreed solution of the ownership issues, and who holds them."

Hans Sachs, who managed to escape to the US after being held in a concentration camp, is thought to have collected up to 12,500 posters, of which only 4,529 have been identified.

The German Historical Museum only displayed a few posters at any one time after becoming part of its collection following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But it argued the collection, which includes advertisements for exhibitions, cabarets, films, and political propaganda, was invaluable to researchers.

Peter Sachs, 71, only became aware of the collection in 2005, and immediately began legal proceedings to get them back.

In an email to news agency the Associated Press, Peter Sachs, said: "It feels like vindication for my father, a final recognition of the life he lost and never got back."

His lawyer Matthias Druba, said: "Hans Sachs wanted to show the poster art to the public, so the objective now is to find a depository for the posters in museums where they can really be seen and not hidden away."
Osama Bin Laden 'plotted to kill Obama' before death Osama Bin Laden asked deputies to prepare an attack on Obama's presidential aircraft Continue reading the main story

Osama Bin Laden was plotting to kill US President Barack Obama, US media reports say.

The plans are said to be in papers found in the compound in Abbottabad where the al-Qaeda leader was killed by US special forces last year.

Bin Laden asked deputies to plan an attack against an aircraft carrying Mr Obama and General David Petraeus

The documents were seen by the Washington Post. There is growing anticipation in the US over government plans to publish all the papers seized at the compound when it was raided in May 2011.

Laptops, notepads and computer hard drives were also taken.

Bin Laden asked one of his deputies, Ilyas Kashmiri, to start preparing the attack.

Drone danger

"Please ask brother Ilyas to send me the steps he has taken into that work," he wrote in a 48-page note.

The US media says intelligence officials believe it is unlikely that al-Qaeda had the capacity to launch such an attack in the US, and have not seen evidence of any preparations.

Kashmiri was killed in a US air attack a month after the death of Bin Laden.

In his 48-page note Bin Laden called on al-Qaeda operatives to move away from the Pakistani tribal areas because of the constant attacks by US remotely-controlled planes.

He also debated changing al-Qaeda's name, because US officials "have largely stopped using the phrase 'the war on terror' in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims", he said.

The Washington Post
By David Ignatius, Published: March 16

Before his death, Osama bin Laden boldly commanded his network to organize special cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the aircraft of President Obama and Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“The reason for concentrating on them,” the al-Qaeda leader explained to his top lieutenant, “is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President] Biden take over the presidency. . . . Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour . . . and killing him would alter the war’s path” in Afghanistan.

Administration officials said Friday that the Obama-Petraeus plot was never a serious threat.

The scheme is described in one of the documents taken from bin Laden’s compound by U.S. forces on May 2, the night he was killed. I was given an exclusive look at some of these remarkable documents by a senior administration official. They have been declassified and will be available soon to the public in their original Arabic texts and translations.

The man bin Laden hoped would carry out the attacks on Obama and Petraeus was the Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri. “Please ask brother Ilyas to send me the steps he has taken into that work,” bin Laden wrote to his top lieutenant, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman. A month after bin Laden’s death, Kashmiri was killed in a U.S. drone attack.

The plot to target Obama was probably bluster, since al-Qaeda apparently lacked the weapons to shoot down U.S. aircraft. But it’s a chilling reminder that even when he was embattled and in hiding, bin Laden still dreamed of pulling off another spectacular terror attack against the United States.

The terrorist leader urged in a 48-page directive to Atiyah to focus “every effort that could be spent on attacks in America,” instead of operations within Muslim nations. He told Atiyah to “ask the brothers in all regions if they have a brother . . . who can operate in the U.S. [He should be able to] live there, or it should be easy for him to travel there.”

U.S. analysts don’t see evidence that these plots have materialized. “The organization lacks the ability to plan, organize and execute complex, catastrophic attacks, but the threat persists,” says a senior administration analyst who has carefully reviewed the documents.

The bin Laden who emerges from these communications is a terrorist CEO in an isolated compound, brooding that his organization has ruined its reputation by killing too many Muslims in its jihad against America. He writes of the many departed “brothers” who have been lost to U.S. drone attacks. But he’s far from the battlefield himself in his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he seems to spend considerable time watching television.

The garbled syntax of bin Laden’s communications may result from their being dictated to several of his wives, according to the U.S. analyst. And his rambling laundry list of recommendations illustrates the problems of communicating with subordinates when it could take several months to receive an answer. The al-Qaeda leader had a “great fear of irrelevance,” the analyst believes.

How Nazi Adolf Eichmann's Holocaust trial unified IsraelBy Gavin Esler

When Nazi Adolf Eichmann stood trial for war crimes 50 years ago, it helped to unify the young state of Israel by allowing Jewish people to talk openly about the Holocaust.

Adolf Eichmann has been described at the architect of the Holocaust
"For Jews," the Israeli historian Tom Segev said, "there were always two Adolfs."

Adolf Hitler had killed himself in the ruins of his Berlin bunker but the other Adolf, SS Lt Colonel Adolf Eichmann, was what Segev called "the face of the Holocaust".

Fifty years ago this week, shortly before 9 o'clock in the morning of 11 April 1961, the "second Adolf" faced justice in a makeshift Israeli courtroom in Jerusalem.

The Eichmann trial helped create modern Israel and has profound implications for the world today.

"When I stand before you," the chief prosecutor Gideon Hausner told the court, "I do not stand alone. Here with me at this moment stand six million prosecutors."

James Bond-style kidnap

The court heard that Eichmann had been a key player in the organisation of the death camps in which millions had perished.

Tipped off by the West German prosecutor, Fritz Bauer, that Eichmann was living in Argentina, Israel's intelligence agency Mossad organised a James Bond-style kidnapping in 1960.

The man who commanded the Mossad team, Rafi Eitan, is now in his mid-80s. He is physically tiny but sprightly and mischievous.

When we met in Tel Aviv, he told me how the kidnap had been organised and I suggested he was Israel's James Bond.

He laughed, and said he was only "half of James Bond".

Eichmann was spirited out of Buenos Aires and taken to a secret location in Israel where he was interrogated for many months.

Those who met him at that time were disparaging about this supposed example of the Nazi "master race".

Mr Eitan described Eichmann as "completely average". The Israeli police interrogator, Michael Goldman Gilad, who is also now in his 80s, said he was a nebbish - a pitiful man, a nobody.

Unifying event

But behind the scenes, there was a great political game being played by Israel's prime minister at the time, David Ben Gurion.
He understood that the trial, if handled properly, could become a unifying event for the young Israeli state that he was trying to build with Jewish immigrants from all over the world - people who spoke different languages and at times seemed to have little in common.

In 1961, Israel had no television service but the whole nation listened to the radio broadcasts of the trial proceedings, and tens of millions of others around the world watched on television.

Day after day, there were stories from survivors talking publicly, often for the first time, of the horrors they had endured.

Historian Tom Segev said: "Until 1960, the Holocaust was largely a taboo. Parents wouldn't talk to their children. Children wouldn't dare ask. The Eichmann trial opened up the wound."

One of Eichmann's Israeli police interrogators, Michael Goldman Gilad, survived Auschwitz but his parents and sister had been murdered.

When he came to Israel after the war, he, like many other Holocaust survivors, did not talk about what he had seen even to family and friends because other Israelis "didn't believe us".

He said: "It was impossible to believe, because it was so horrible. But the Eichmann trial opened our mouths again."

The Eichmann trial became a unifying national experience.

Tom Segev said Ben Gurion wanted everyone to recognise that "whatever the world owes to the victims, they now owe to Israel".


Eichmann was found guilty on 11 December, 1961.

On 30 May, 1962, the only civil execution in Israel's history took place.
Interrogator Michael Goldman Gilad, was there.

He recalled that Eichmann at Auschwitz had demanded that every Jew be put to death because any who survived might one day seek revenge.

"Well, he was right," he told me, grimly.

After the execution, he was told to supervise the burning of the body and the scattering of Eichmann's ashes at sea, so there could be no neo-Nazi memorial.

Goldman Gilad explained that Eichmann's ashes were just enough to fill a two-litre container.

He was shocked, because in the extermination camps one of the jobs he had been forced to do was to spread ashes from the crematoria on the ice and snow, so that Nazi officers did not slip.

The mounds from the dead had formed "a great mountain of ash", so much more than the handful from Eichmann's body.

Fifty years on, Eichmann's evil escapes explanation. But his legacy is clear.

The theatrical nature of his trial helped create the modern Jewish state.

From a subject too painful to mention, the Holocaust is now a compulsory topic in Israeli schools, with as many as eight out of 10 Israeli high school children describing themselves as Holocaust "survivors".

This 50th anniversary is, therefore, also a time of debate within Israel about whether the inescapable shadow of the past also makes it difficult to make peace in the present, and thrive in the future.

Nazi camp guard Demjanjuk dies March 17 2012 BBC

John Demjanjuk, who was found guilty for his role as a guard at a Nazi death camp in World War II, has died aged 91, German police say.

He had been sentenced in May 2011 by a German court to five years in prison, but was released pending an appeal.

He died at a home for the elderly.

The court said Demjanjuk, 91, was a guard at Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. He denied this, saying he was a prisoner of war and a victim too.

An estimated 250,000 people died in the gas chambers at Sobibor. Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of the 28,060 people who were killed there while he was a guard.

Demjanjuk's family said during his trial that he was very ill.

He was also convicted on similar charges by a court in Israel in 1986, but the verdict was overturned when doubts emerged about his identity.

Born in Ukraine in 1920, Demjanjuk grew up under Soviet rule.

He was a soldier in the Red Army in 1942 when he was captured by the Germans.

Prosecutors had argued he was recruited by the Germans to be an SS camp guard and that by working at a death camp he was a participant in the killings. No evidence was produced that he committed a specific crime.

It was the first time such a legal argument had been made in a German court.

Central to the prosecution's case was an SS identity card indicating Demjanjuk had been posted to Sobibor. The defence cast doubts on the authenticity of the card but court experts said it appeared genuine.


John Demjanjuk, an elderly former Ohio car worker who was born in Ukraine, was finally convicted of Nazi war crimes after decades of fighting attempts to bring him to justice.

Before his latest trial, in Germany, he was famously deported from the US to Israel in 1986 to face allegations that he had served as a camp guard nicknamed Ivan the Terrible at Treblinka.

He was convicted and sentenced to death. But he was reprieved a few years later after new evidence appeared.

But back in America, decades later, an immigration judge ruled there was enough evidence to prove he had been a guard at other Nazi camps, and he was sent abroad for trial again in 2009.

The Munich case, in which he was given a five-year jail sentence, is expected to be Germany's last big war crimes trial.

War years

Born Ivan Demjanjuk on 3 April 1920 in the Ukrainian village of Dubovi Makharintsi, he was raised under Soviet rule.

A burly man, he worked as a tractor and lorry driver on a Ukrainian collective farm.

Little can be said with certainty about Mr Demjanjuk's activities during World War II.

He joined the Red Army like millions of others, and was serving in eastern Crimea in 1942 when he was captured by the Germans.

At least three million Soviet soldiers are believed by historians to have died in German prison camps, many of them left to starve. "I would have given my soul for a loaf of bread," Mr Demjanjuk said later in court.

At his trial in Israel, he testified that he had been held at a camp in Chelmno, Poland, until 1944 before being moved to another camp in Austria where he joined a Nazi-backed unit of Russian soldiers fighting communist rule.

But according to German prosecutors, between March and September 1943, he was in fact involved in the murders of tens of thousands of Jews at the Nazis' Sobibor death camp in Poland.

They said they had obtained hundreds of documents and a number of prosecution witnesses.

"For the first time we have even found lists of names of the people who Demjanjuk personally led into the gas chambers," said Kurt Schrimm, head of the special office investigating Nazi crimes.

First trial

After the war, Demjanjuk lived in southern Germany, working as a driver for various international refugee organisations, according to Germany's Spiegel magazine.

The defence said that the SS ID card was a forgery
In 1952, he emigrated to the US with his wife and child, eventually settling in Cleveland, where he worked as an engine mechanic at a car plant.

He was naturalised as a US citizen but his citizenship was temporarily removed after a US judge ruled in 1981 that he had lied in his citizenship application about his wartime activities.

Israeli prosecutors requested his extradition in 1983. They believed Mr Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible - one of the most infamous guards at Treblinka.

Ivan had helped operate the gas chambers and personally murdered hundreds of prisoners, hacking many of his naked victims to death with a sword, according to witnesses.

A US court rejected his appeal against deportation in 1985. The court dismissed doubts cast over the authenticity of an ID card, which the defence said was a forgery.

The card showed that Mr Demjanjuk belonged to the Trawniki unit - an SS-trained section of non-German volunteers which was tasked with persecuting and murdering Jews.

In Israel, Mr Demjanjuk's lawyers argued that he was the victim of mistaken identity and challenged the accuracy of the memories of five Treblinka survivors who identified him as Ivan the Terrible.

However, the Trawniki ID card helped sway judges in the prosecution's favour and in 1988 he was found guilty of crimes at Treblinka and sentenced to hang.

Five years later, the conviction was quashed in 1993 by Israel's Supreme Court, after evidence emerged in post-Soviet Russia that another Ukrainian - Ivan Marchenko - had in fact been Ivan the Terrible.

However, Israel's chief justice was careful to avoid declaring Mr Demjanjuk innocent, noting that there was ample evidence that he had served as a guard in other camps.

Second trial

Mr Demjanjuk had his citizenship restored upon his return to the US as a free man but in 2002 it was revoked once again.

A district court judge ruled that there was sufficient reliable evidence to prove that he had been a concentration camp guard, if not at Treblinka.

Appeals followed but a court eventually ruled that he should be deported to his native Ukraine, Germany or Poland.

In November 2008, state prosecutors in Munich announced they had enough evidence to prove his involvement in the murders of Jews at Sobibor.
He was formally charged in Germany with 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder.

He fought extradition - protesting that he was too ill to travel. He turned up in court in a wheelchair or lying motionless on a stretcher. But the court was shown secretly recorded evidence of him walking unaided, and ruled against him. He was deported to Germany in May 2009.

His defence there again questioned the authenticity of the Trawniki ID card - but the German court rejected its request to suspend the trial.