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.
But at home in Germany, Merkel has been surprisingly timid on many key issues – especially when they involve her conservative Christian Democrats. Her tendency to avoid clear positions has driven her coalition partners mad. Merkel might be a lion when she’s on foreign stages but she tends to be a lamb at home. One of her favourite sayings is: “If you try to beat your head into a wall, the wall will usually win.”
That twist on the old peace slogan – “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” – came to mind after the World Orchestra for Peace -– an occasional ensemble of some of the world’s best classical musicians –- played a concert in Krakow on September 1 to mark the Nazi invasion of Poland 70 years ago that started World War Two.
With Russian conductor Valery Gergiev on the podium, the orchestra played a “Prelude for Peace” by composer and Krakow native Krzysztof Penderecki, and a rousing account of Gustav Mahler’s gargantuan Fifth Symphony – but for whom?