After the end of the Second World War, members of the Nazi leadership were tried in Nuremberg, Germany. Now, 75 years on, we asked Holocaust survivor Steven Frank BEM whether he thought justice was served at Nuremberg.
I think I probably would have thought exactly the same as the judges, I wanted the whole lot murdered, oh! that’s not the right word; I’d like the whole lot killed for the misdeeds that they had done during those five odd years in the 1940s, and it always disappointed me that some of them got away you know.
So, when you reflect on what took place at Nuremberg, do you get the idea, the sense that justice was served?
Definitely, justice was served to those people who were there; I had to feel that there was justice yet to be served for those who weren’t there because, of course, several people just sort of disappeared into thin air, merged with the populations but you know over time these people have been located and found out you know, Simon Wiesenthal and the Nazi hunters you know, he went all over the world finding these people and bringing them to book, and even in the year 2000 plus, you know, people have been bought to book in Germany and been taken to court and I know they’re in their 90s but they had to face the evils of what they did.
Justice is, of course, a very complex phenomenon and I just wonder, from your perspective, for a crime as horrific as genocide, what does justice look like?
Well, justice looks like revenge at the time; looking back as one gets older, justice looks like justice, it had to be done; the sadness of it is that there were so many people that were involved in the Holocaust, it wasn’t just all those people sitting there on those benches in the Nuremberg trials; it filtered right down this sort of tree of destruction, right down to you know the camp guards and many, many of those got away with it and lived quiet, prosperous lives in Kosovo, Germany and, of course, some even for political reasons, I think Werner von Braun I believe who, you know the rocket expert, who went over to the United States, he managed to sort of you know get out and not be sort of sentenced for what his part in in all this was
How often do you reflect on what happened in Nuremberg and here I’m interested to know whether you sometimes go back to the archives to watch video footage of those trials?
I have in the past seen video footage of the trials and I often wonder what’s going through the minds of all those people, I mean if you take somebody like Goering, for example, sitting there like a great big fat slob and the man you know who was going to bomb the United Kingdom to bits, what was going through his mind, and then when you think, when the trial was over he committed suicide by soldering or biting on the cyanide pill or whatever it was that he had in his mouth; you know to commit suicide is something very, very difficult to do so it must have been you know quite a traumatic experience for him but I’m jolly glad that he had the traumatic experience.
Because six million Jews, you know, had perished
Yeah, and not only six million Jews you know, you’ve also got to think of all the other undesirables, so to speak, you know, the blacks, the homosexuals and the Gypsies you know, it goes it goes on and on along this sort of superiority that the Germans thought they had of themselves and that everybody else was you know definitely beneath contempt; that’s the thing I think which was the greatest evil of all, and then of course you’ve got just the general war itself you know, was it 20 million Russians perished, what for? Where did it get Germany in the end?