ICC investigates Darfur

Even though the US has long labeled the crisis in Darfur as genocide, the UN has been keeping the entire conflict at arms length. However, for the first time during the African country’s troubles, the United Nations Security Council has taken an unprecedented step forward and asked the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes in Sudan.

The Sudanese Minister of Justice, Mohammed al-Mardi, took a firm stance on what he fears might unfold in his nation:

“If they are here to discuss the progress of trials or the role of national justice then we are ready to give them whatever information they are looking for. But if the matter is about investigations, then they….don’t have the jurisdiction.”

This is at least partially correct, as the ICC doesn’t have the authority to try people who have been properly processed in a national court. Human Rights Watch maintains that the Sudanese government established its own court to handle the Darfur crisis, but has only tried 13 minor cases to date.

Hitler monument

Ted Junker, an 87-year-old German living in Wisconsin, is building a memorial to Adolf Hitler on his land. Junkers lived in Romania during the rise of the Third Reich and eventually joined the Waffen SS, where he served on the Russian front.

After the war, he moved to the United States. While he asserts that Hitler has simply been misunderstood, others believe that he’s simply a Holocaust denier.

“I like the US,” Junker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel according to the Associated Press. “I can’t understand why people don’t know the truth. This is for understanding, not hate.”

Kathy Heilbronner, of the Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community Relations, told AP that “in making these assertions, he’s deliberately choosing to ignore the overwhelming volume of everything that supports every aspect of the Holocaust.”

Rwanda tribunal lags

With costs soaring into the millions, the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is claiming that they will not be finished with their cases by the 2008 date. The most disturbing aspect of this story was ICTR spokesman Timothy Gallimore’s statement — “it is unlikely that all the people responsible, even the big fish, will be brought to justice.”

Ex-Nazis of little use to the CIA

As the CIA works to turn over nearly 8 million pages of documents, a clearer picture of our complicity in the aftermath of World War II is emerging. The latest round of documents to be declassified shows that the CIA knew where Adolf Eichmann was living as well as the alias he was using.

Even after they learned this from West German intelligence sources, they refused to share the information with Israel who were actively pursuing him. This decision was apparently fueled by the belief that revealing (and prosecuting) Eichmann would put other former Nazis, like Hans Globke, at risk.

The United States government, preoccupied with the cold war, had no policy at the time of pursuing Nazi war criminals. The West German government was wary of exposing Eichmann because officials feared what he might reveal about such figures as Hans Globke, a former Nazi then serving as a key national security adviser to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Mr. Naftali said.

In 1960, also at the request of West Germany, the C.I.A. persuaded Life magazine, which had purchased Eichmann’s memoir from his family, to delete a reference to Globke before publication, the documents show.

While it’s no secret that the CIA helped to harbor certain Nazis in order to use them for information, this latest round of documents shows that they were not only ineffective in most cases, but often caused more harm than good. With stark examples, such as the cases of Heinz Felfe and Tscherim Soobzokov, we’re reminded of the mistakes we made in dealing with war criminals in the midst of the Cold War.

Canada’s Nazi prosecution record

Efraim Zuroff, the director of Jerusalem’s Simon Wiesenthal Center, was in Toronto and Ottawa this week to present the center’s annual report and launch a new program entitled Operation: Last Chance. The latest report gives Canada a poor rating at successfully prosecuting war criminals (“minimal success that could have been greater”).

“The problem is that the system is not streamlined,” said the centre’s chief Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff.

“For the past few years, eight cases against war criminals have been won by the government, they have been stripped of their citizenship, but with delay after delay, the government has not succeeded in kicking them out of the country.”

Even though other countries, like the United States and Italy, got high marks for its success in prosecuting and deporting war criminals, there are are still an estimated 10,000 Nazi perpetrators at large. This comes after a more productive year of prosecutions worldwide.

Spanish court to try China

A law suit was opened this past Monday in a Spanish court “against several former Chinese officials” claiming human rights violations. The law suit was brought by a group called Committee to Support Tibet. According to The Independent:

In its lawsuit, the human rights group said that more than one million Tibetans had been killed or gone missing since China occupied Tibet in 1951.

Even while China has publically denounced the claims, the Spanish court is preparing to hear testimony to decide if they can proceed with charges, including genocide and crimes against humanity,

Harry Haft

A new book from Syracuse University Press is due to be released today entitled Harry Haft, Auschwitz, and Rocky Marciano. Haft recounts both his fight with the legendary Marciano and the time he spent in Auschwitz.

Because of Haft’s brute strength, street savvy, and his relationship with a somewhat sympathetic guard, he was able to get work assignments where he could steal food. However, the relationship with the guard came with a big price tag when he volunteered Haft to become a fighter.

Every Sunday Haft would square off in bare-knuckle brawls against other detainees for the perverse pleasure of the SS guards. The battles were literally fights to the finish because the losers would be hauled off and executed.

Because Haft never once lost a fight, his German tormentors began referring to him as the “Jew Animal.” Described as a “flat-footed, toe-to-toe puncher,” he even beat a slick moving Frenchman who was imported by the Nazis to test his mettle like it had never been tested before.

After toppling the Frenchman like a giant tree, Haft saw him being dragged out of the ring. Although the Frenchman had been a favorite fighter of the Germans, he was never seen or heard from again.

Haft eventually escaped Auschwitz and wound up being discovered by American liberators. From there, he went from a displaced person’s camp to Jewish boxing champ to a career in boxing.