Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Entering the Munich court this week to cover the trial of John Demjanjuk, 89, accused of helping to force 27,900 Jews into gas chambers at an extermination camp in 1943, was like stepping into a history book.
Inevitably, the spotlight was on Demjanjuk himself.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s most wanted Nazi war suspect lay under a white blanket on a mobile bed in the middle of the courtroom. Was this old, expressionless and clearly weak man really the “face of evil”?
Efraim Zuroff, head of the Wiensenthal Center’s Jerusalem office echoed the views of many observers when he told Reuters: “Demjanjuk put on a great act. He should have gone to Hollywood, not Sobibor.”
Even to those who believed he was making the most of his frail condition, it was a pitiful sight.
“Self-confident”, “smart” and “rhetorically brilliant” – just some of the adjectives the media have lavished upon Germany’s favourite politician as he has covered thousands of miles traversing the globe on his country’s behalf since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new centre-right administration took office late last month.
But Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is not in charge of foreign affairs — a position usually associated with voter popularity. He is defence minister.
Under Adolf Hitler, the Nazis tried to extinguish the culture and language of the Sorbs.
This week, a member of Germany’s indigenous Slavic minority won a state election for the first time. Stanislaw Tillich’s victory puts him firmly in control of Saxony, the most populous eastern state – and looks likely to catapult the 50-year-old to the front ranks of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).
Breaking into the summer holiday lull, Austrian politics has gotten into a lather over a far-right populist’s call for a referendum on whether a mainly German-speaking region of northern Italy should rejoin Austria.
No matter how far-fetched, his proposal raised a hue and cry by challenging the taboo of old unreconstructed nationalism in a country restlessly determined to live down its Nazi past.
Retired U.S. auto worker John Demjanjuk, 89, has been deported to Germany and prosecutors in Munich want to put him on trial for assisting to murder at least 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor extermination camp in 1943. With most Nazi criminals dead, it is likely to be the last big Nazi war crime trial in Germany.