Fran Morris 7-6-2022

Young people take on new ideas and new causes in a heartbeat. Later, sometimes a lifetime later, as they became wiser, they may realize that those ideas or causes were not what they believed them to be at the time.

Josef Schutz was 21 years old when he joined the Nazi regime in 1942, whether it was by conscription or voluntarily. By their own reports, he didn’t actually kill anyone, but as a guard at the Sachsenhausen Nazi concentration camp he was considered to be an accomplice in the murder of 3,518 prisoners. He was sentenced to five years in prison, starting in 2023.

I couldn’t find anything about Schutz’s life after the war ended, and nothing which indicated that he was brought up and charged and punished later for the three years he served as a guard. One sentence in an  El Pais article by Michele Tantussi (AP) stated that “a new but forceful chapter in his long history to compensate the victims of the camps” did not change the minds of the judges. Nothing was stated about how Schutz might have tried to make recompense for any part he might have played in the Holocaust. The article did say he spent time in a Russian prison camp, then moved to the Brandenburg region, doing farming and locksmith work.

My first reaction after reading the article was, “why did the German Justice system wait until 2021 when he was 100 years old and in bad health to put him on trial, unless it didn’t know where he was living?” But then, we have to account for our sins, big or little, and whenever that accounting occurs.

I am a German descendant of immigrants who came to the United States before World War I, and was a child during World War II. I had just a taste of how Germans were looked down upon in America because of Hitler’s Holocaust and land grab of other countries. In elementary school and into high school, I didn’t say anything about my German heritage because of the comments made by the other students. I could not consider myself to be a “victim,” because I knew what happened to Jews and others in the Holocaust, and I was living in America. But, it affected me, nonetheless. Such horror should never happen, for any reason, anywhere.