Kassa, Hungary. 1944 - The clouds, no matter what the weather, hung over the walls of this depressing district like a constant reminder of what the residents would be waking up to each morning. There would be odd days where new blood would enter the four walls, but there would be no rejoicing, no friendly welcome, just a look of pity and defeat. The small number of entrants would never make up the scores of Jews who were transported out and never seen again.
They didn't know. They couldn't know, but many suspected that Auschwitz would be their destination. Fingers would be worked until devoid of skin, pain would become a relief after the torture they suffered. The prisoners would ultimately be gassed until their innards would cough up and their veins would shut down.
The conditions inside the Jewish district in Kassa, now known as Košice in Slovakia, were beyond imagination, unless of course you were submitted to the Jewish quarter of Prague, the ghetto in Kraków, or any other cordoned stretch of city, where you would go without food, toiletry sanitation, sleep or living quarters. This period of a Jew's life would be a cakewalk in comparison to the life they would lead, should they be chosen to recreate Operation Reinhard; moving the citizens of the ghetto, to the concentration camp. This decision was to be made by László Csizsik-Csatáry, commander in the Royal Hungarian Police, who indeed ordered this rule enough times to slaughter 15,700 Jewish citizens, whilst working directly for a Mr. A. Hitler of the German National Socialist Party.
Budapest, Hungary. 2012 - László Csizsik-Csatáry was arrested this past week, at age 97. In 1948 he was charged for war crimes, in-absentia, in the former-Czechoslovakia, and sentenced to death. It will be very interesting if this verdict will be over-ruled. Many believe his latest arrest, for the unlawful torture of human beings, would likely see him sent to prison for the rest of his life. All over the planet, people are sitting on opposite sides of the fence now, some claiming he should be released, he's two old to stand trial, and others stating how he should be put to death or forced in to prison for the remainder of his days, no matter how few are left.
Whatever the decision, how would it affect arrested Nazis down the line? You didn't think they had all disappeared?
It may be nearly 70 years since the Allies and the Soviets closed in on Nazi Germany and put an end to the most sadistic war of the previous generation, but there are still people alive who took part, and still people alive who were affected.
Some former-Nazis have been caught, convicted and set free, much like 91 year-old Algimantas Dailide. He captured Poles and Jews trying to escape from the Vilna Ghetto in Lithuania, who were eventually executed, but following this he managed to leave Europe and acquire refuge in the United States until 2004. He was sentenced in 2006 but wasn't jailed due to fragile health. His health has been strong enough to see him alive 6 years on.
Another man who has never faced charges is Gerhard Sommer, who massacred 560 civilians whilst bombing the Italian village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema. He is currently living in a nursing home in Hamburg.
The family members of the Polish citizens who attempted to escape from Vilna Ghetto, those who had loved ones in Sant'Anna di Stazzema, have never seen justice brought to the men who murdered their families and friends. A common reason for them avoiding jail is "they are no longer a threat". Fair enough, people over the age of 90 rarely are, but these former-Nazis have seemingly never paid a high price for their crimes. There is the argument that they had no choice in the matter, Hitler was all too powerful to be brought down from inside his own regime, but revolutions don't happen because everyone coincidentally revolts at the same time, it takes the guts and glory of one to speak loudly the collective feeling of the oppressed.
Csatáry, like many other former ranking Nazis, has already been sentenced, rightly or wrongly, to death. He has not fulfilled this given sentence.
I am not suggesting we re-sentence him to death, but we must be sure that every former-Nazi, still living, has been charged with, and completed a sentence that sees them pay for the crimes they committed. Many of these people escaped for decades, up to the time when the Simon Wiesenthal Center published the list of Most Wanted Nazi War-Criminals in 2001. Since then, many war-criminals have been sentenced, but until each one has been subjected to a full level of punishment, a dark grey cloud will hang over the lives of millions of Jewish people who are still alive, and were deeply affected by the torture, and harm their families were subjected to, 70 years ago.