A new Documentary, the “Final Account”, released this Friday has revealed that some of the few remaining WW2- era Nazis believe they have nothing to regret and are proud of their participation in one of the world’s most devastating wars and atrocities.
British director Luke Holland, whose own grandparents were killed during the Holocaust, has managed to track down and interview several elderly nazis over the course of 10 years. His elderly subjects were deemed functionaries rather than war criminals by the German government at the end of WW2, meaning these former medics, SS officers and concentration camp guards were able to return to their various communities and resume their civilian life – something far too many of their victims were not able to do. One of the more remorseful interviewees, a man named Klaus Kleinau, a former member of the Waffen-SS, lays out the various excuses many use to explain their actions, “The majority of those under Naziism said after the war, again and again, firstly ‘I didn’t know,’ secondly ‘I didn’t take part,’ and thirdly ‘if I had known I would have acted differently.” However, Klaus believes this to be completely delusional saying that “everybody tried to distance themselves from the massacres committed under Naziism, especially those of the final years. And that’s why so many said: ‘I wasn’t a Nazi’.”
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The vast majority of interviewees begin their story by mentioning their participation in the Jungvolk, a mandatory program for boys aged between 10 and 14. After this they would then move on to become members of the now infamous Hitler Youth, with girls advancing to the female equivalent, the League of German Girls. One man, Hans Werk a former Waffen-SS member, still has his Hitler Youth membership card, “I joined the Jungvolk at the age of 10 and received this. I joined on the 1st of May 1937. Even before I was 10 years old. I couldn’t wait.” Hans later goes on to express his sincere regret about his wartime actions.
Another unnamed woman added: “We didn’t support the party. But we liked the uniform. We went along with it, because we enjoyed it – putting on the uniform and going on marches.” The Hitler Youth of course was one of the many methods the Nazis used to control and indoctrinated the German youth, Hans recalls how he “learned to read with the normal alphabet book, but we also had a Jew-themed alphabet book. It had a caricature of a Jew for each letter. I remember one in particular: a butcher’s shop that was really greasy and filthy. A disgusting Jew with dirty long hair and a hat, behind the counter. Next to him a blond German girl with a white apron. He had his hand where it shouldn’t be.”
Not all of those who were interviewed are as remorseful as Klaus and Hans. When asked if he still honours Hitler, Karl Hollander, a former SS lieutenant said, “I do. The idea was correct …. I don’t share the opinion that they should be murdered. They should have been driven out to another country where they could rule themselves. This would have saved a great deal of grief.” Another named Kurt Sametreiter also agreed, “The Waffen-SS had nothing to do with the terrible and brutal treatment of Jews and dissidents and the concentration camps. He explained that “We were front line soldiers … I have no regrets, and I will never regret being with that unit. Truly not.” Sametreiter was also asked if he believed that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, he denied this: “That’s a joke. I don’t believe it. I will not believe. It can’t be …. The scale that is claimed today, I deny that, too. I deny it. It didn’t happen.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BRITANNICA