WWII Nazis Who Are Still Living…And Free

WWII Nazis Who Are Still Living…And Free

Jeanette Lamb - February 14, 2017

The Second World War was fought over 70 years ago. Surprisingly, some of the men still living are wanted for war crimes, yet after all this time they continue to avoid serving jail time. Below are men who allegedly committed horrific crimes during World War II, but continue to live as free citizens.

Gerhard Sommer Pillaged An Entire Village And Went Free

Gerhard Sommer was born in June of 1921 near Zwickau in Saxony, Germany. Young Sommer, like many of his peers, became a member of the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). He did well and earned the rank of Jungzugführer in the Deutsche Jungvolk. By 1939, at the age of 18, Sommer joined the Nazi Party. Not long after that, he enlisted in the Waffen-SS. He was wounded in battle after fighting in Ukraine and the Balkans, and was consequently awarded an Iron Cross 2nd class. When he recovered, he set his sights higher.

Sommer put his name forth for the rank of SS-Reserveführer. After a successful promotion, he trained in Proschnitz, just south of where he grew up. By late January 1944, Sommer made another career advancement. He was made a SS-Untersturmführer and thus served as a Zugführer and later a Kompanieführer in the 7th Kompanie des II Bataillons/SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 35. On August 19, 1944 he was awarded another Iron Cross; this time it was not 2nd, but 1st class.

WWII Nazis Who Are Still Living…And Free
Tuscan village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema, where a massacre took place in 1944. Peter Schaefer, CC

His claim to notoriety is linked to his probable involvement in the massacre of 560 people. Throughout Europe, near the war’s end, there are a number of stories about Nazi soldiers who unleashed a wrath of fury through committing heinous acts. Atrocities against entire villages sometimes left every villager dead. The motive is most often cited as anger over the war’s end. If so, Sommer is not an exception. He is thought to be one of the soldiers who in early August 1944 entered the picturesque hillside Tuscan village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema, where, along with other German troops commanded byAnton Galler, gathered those living there and murdered them.

Every non-soldier there that morning was locked into one of several barns and stables normally used for farming. Swiftly, they carried out executions. In other instances in Europe when this happened, women and children were locked in churches, which were burned while the men of the village were made to stay outside the church where they were executed. The village priest, Fiore Menguzzo was shot at point-blank range. The victims included at least 107 children, and 8 pregnant women. At the end, the lifeless bodies were piled into the church and burned. Sommer was tried in Italy and convicted. He has yet to stand trial in Germany, where he still lives today.

WWII Nazis Who Are Still Living…And Free
Algimantas Dailidė. Cleve Scene

Lithuanian Nazi Collaborator Was Convicted, Sentenced, And Promptly Released

Algimantas Mykolas Dailidė was born in Kaunasis — a Lithuanian city that underwent massive expansion which began the same year of Dailidė’s birth, 1921. The city rode a giant economic wave as a result of the industrial revolution. This lasted until the Second World War. During the years preceding the outbreak of war, the city was caught between Russian and Polish rule. From 1919 until 1939, it was under Russian authority. When in 1939 the Red Army released it to Lithuania again, it took only one year before possession was handed back (or taken by, depending on one’s point of view) to the Soviet Empire. Either way, Dailidė’s early years were shaped by a revolving door of authoritarian rulers.

By 1941, Lithuania was occupied by Nazi Germany. Dailidė joined the Lithuanian Security Police, known as Saugumas. They made their headquarters in Kaunasis, and worked as collaborators in support of the Nazi occupation. They took orders directly form the Nazi Secret police. Their goal was to keep every citizen of the Third Reich under watch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Lithuanian Secret Police were given the task of helping the SD by ratting out suspected Communists or Communist sympathizers, many of whom happened to be Jewish or, at the very least, Jewish supporters. Others were spied on and consequently arrested for suspected harboring of anti-Nazi sentiments, had worked for the Soviets during the time the city was under Russian rule.

This was Dailidė’s duty until one day the protocol narrowed. The Lithuanian Secret Police suddenly got in the habit of not using evidence to justify an arrest. In addition, they stopped looking for Communists. Their focus was solely on a persons’ ethnic background. In this way they were a direct extension of the Third Reich, carrying out orders that were of interest only to the Nazi regime. Lithuania was home to many Jews and had a lively Jewish community. The Saugumas made many arrests.

Dailidė’s role is not entirely clear apart from documents that confirm he worked for the SD and is accused of having arrested Jewish people. His involvement beyond this however points to the Vilnius Ghetto. It was brimming with desperate, starving, diseased people; a majority of them were, ironically, directly responsible for the impressive city they were captors of. Vilnius was a well-known rich enclave of Jewish influence until the 20th century, so much so, it was described as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.”

Dailidė escaped Lithuania by taking refuge in Germany, and finally in the United States where he worked in real estate along the warm sandy beaches of the Florida coast. In 2004, his past began to catch up with him. He was deported, and although he was tried and convicted in a Lithuanian court for crimes committed during the war, the case was all for show. In the end, the judge totally dismissed his jail sentence.

WWII Nazis Who Are Still Living…And Free
Auschwitz medic Hubert Zafke. The Guardian

Auschwitz Medic Was Indicted In 2013, But Has Not Stood Trial

Hubert Zafke was born in 1920 in Pomerania, Germany. He joined the Schutztaffel — more commonly known as “SS” — and in 1942 and 1943 served medic at the Sachsenhausen and Neuengamme concentration camps. Both were in the north of Germany, and had been around for a while by the time of his arrival. Sachenhausen was built in 1936. Initially it was meant to be an execution camp, its primary function was as an SS training camp. Neuengamme was created two years later in 1938 and was used primarily as holding camp. It was like a port city; prisoners would be shipped to Neuengamme and then transported to sub camps spattered around Europe. Nonetheless, when Zarke arrived in 1942, the Nauengamme was already using hydrogen cyanide as a means of mass slaughter.

Many held captive in Sachsenhausen were eventually sent to Auschwitz and meanwhile Auschwitz was shipping prisoners to Neuengamme. Give nthe triangulation momentum between the three facilities, it is not surprising that Hubert Zafke was sent to Auschwitz. He arrived there in the summer of 1944, the year after the notorious camp installed the ovens where droves of people being held in one of the largest concentration camps every built would be erased from existence. After Zafke arrived, 3,861 prisoners are thought to have been murdered in the gas chambers or otherwise at the camp between August 14 and September 15, 1944 while he was there. In addition, it has recently been denoted one of the arrivals while Zafke was working Auschwitz was Anne Frank.

Zafke eventually left Auschwitz and was arrested by the British and sent to Poland to stand trail for his participation in the deaths of innocent people at the concentration camp. Like Sommer, Zafke was sentenced to prison in the country where his crimes took place. Amazingly, he was only sentenced to 3 years. When he was subsequently released and returned to Germany, it took until 2013 for an investigation to bear enough fruit to charge him with helping to carry out the systematic murder of over 3,000 people. Since then, a number of trials have been suspended due to Zafke’s poor health.

In 2013, German federal prosecutors began the investigation of Germans that served at concentration camps, including Hubert Zafke. He was arrested and indicted as an alleged accomplice to the killing of 3,861 persons at Auschwitz. The accused denied the charges against him. Hubert Zafke was scheduled to stand trial in February 2016. However, the presiding judge determined that he was unfit to stand trial, owing to his alleged dementia and depression, among other health concerns. The Court of Appeal annulled this decision, deciding that the accused was fit to stand trial. Another potential trial began in October 2016. The prosecutor, as well as the civil parties, have requested the refusal of the first instance judges for their lack of impartiality. This request was denied in December 2016.

WWII Nazis Who Are Still Living…And Free
Helmut Oberlander, member of the Einsatzgruppen death squad of Nazi Germany. CBC News

Part Of An Elite Nazi Death Squad, Now, Canada Cannot Get Rid Of Him

One of the most unusual cases is that of Helmut Oberlander. He was born in 1924 in Halbstadt, Ukraine, where at the age of seventeen he was either forced — by circumstances — or through free will, to join Nazi German Einsatzkommandos, which worked as death squads. With killing as a core purpose, Oberlander must have shown a propensity or attribute that caused the Nazis to decide he belonged there. This is where his story gets tricky. Although born in the Ukraine, Oberlander was ethnically German. His Russian and German language abilities were put to use by the Einsatzkommandos. He was a translator, and used this job description when in court to temper the idea he was involved in the killing of anyone as a secondary or primary function.

The Einsatzkommando group to which he belonged was one of five subgroups. All of them branched from Einsatzgruppen. Collectively, the squads were composed of around 3,000 soldiers. They were a fierce, agile, specialized squadron. When not directly combating the Soviets, Einsatzkommandos’ mission was to above all purge the world of any and all Jews. Along with Jews, their function was to kill anyone Polish or Romanian, or anyone who was a Communist. Also, homosexuals and anyone part of the intelligentsia.

Oberlander argued that his Einsatzkommando duties were limited and included only translating radio transmissions broadcast in Russian, acting as an interpreter during interactions between the military and the local population, and outside that he had the mundane task of guarding of military supplies. This contrasts with the functionality and purpose of his unit. Oberlander’s Einsatzengruppen was “D.” It was created in 1941 and ran operations for two years until early spring of 1943. The territories they worked in included northern Transylvania, Cernauti, Kishinev, and across the Ukraine and Crimea. During those two years, Einsatzgruppe D was responsible for the killing of over 91,728 people.

What Oberlander did from the time the Second World War ended until 1954 is not clear. From 1954 onward his whereabouts and daily routine are well documented as a result of an ongoing court case. He immigrated to Canada along with his wife. There, he worked in construction and within six years obtained Canadian citizenship. It took Canada until 1995 to acknowledge their mistake. Canadian courts have attempted unsuccessfully many times to deport Oberlander and to revoke his citizenship. In February 2000, a Canadian judge concluded that there is no evidence that Oberlander was involved, directly or indirectly, in committing any war crimes or any crimes against humanity. This was later overturned, until November 2009, when the Federal Court of Appeals struck down a decision to revoke Oberlander of his citizenship.