Monday, January 30, 2012
A summer adventure for Cops, Lawyers, Judges, History Buffs, and Reporters
Germany—People involved in the law, courts and justice need so see what’s not taught in law school. They need to see how the law can quickly go wrong even in a sophisticated and civilized society.
Under National Socialism, justice was perverted into a filmed spectator sport where capital punishment for even minor resistance to government became acceptable and frequent.
I’ve spent decades inside the criminal justice system. I have always wondered where the line is drawn for determining just when justice becomes Judicial Tyranny. Trust me it’s not easy to figure out unless of course you’re the victim justice gone wrong.
My visits to Germany have taken me to some very infamous places deep inside Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Nuremberg.
It is shocking and indeed moving to stand where the authorities were criminals dispensing their justice under color of law. To say these visits were life changing is an understatement. For lawyers, judges and those working in and around or courts, what’s past is prologue.
This trip is not about the Holocaust but rather how the Nazis treated German non-Jews that spoke out against the Nazi police state. Jews were stripped of their citizenship and were not entitled to even Nazi Due Process. The German citizen turned in by a neighbor was in for some real horror at the People's Court. Government propaganda made people believe that the accused citizens would be treated fairly. Americans today are grossly ignorant of just how the Nazi dictatorship manipulated the truth and easily fooled the public.
You will meet Judge Roland Friesler, President of the People’s Court shown above. He was a former Communist who embraced National Socialism. Frisler can be seen in action in many videos on YouTube.
This horrible man was killed during an allied bombing raid in 1944. Rather than seek refuge in the shelter he was trying to gather and protect the files of the defendants being tried before his court.
Unfortunately Frisler is alive and presiding in courtrooms all over the world including our own. Every practicing lawyer has seen Frisler in one form or another.
I want to lead a small tour to Germany to the actual sites of Nazi administered Judicial Tyranny.
The criminal trials of the Third Reich all involved career cops investigating the reports of busybody snitches. They established probable cause for some wartime anti-terrorism violation arresting their suspects.
Torture was not used except in major conspiracy cases. The cops made detailed reports and forwarded the cases to Nazi prosecutors that filed formal complaints in The People's Court.
The accused had a right to an appointed attorney that functioned as a bearer of bad news to the accused.
A public trial was held and the prosecution always won. Death sentences were handed down for trivial anti-Nazi offenses using wartime as an excuse.
The fixed trials were well documented and the sham appeal process was really quick. Nazi Justice was very swift.
The Third Reich’s executioners were very buzy.
Sippenshaft Justice: That German word translates to Kin Liability. This was a Nazi tool of collective punishment used primarily after the Stauffenberg July 20, 1944 failed bomb plot. Relatives those accused of crimes against the Reich often were executed or imprisoned. Nina Von Stauffenberg was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp and her children were renamed and placed in an orphanage.
Today this great nation celebrates human rights and is a terrific friend of America. The food here is as good as it gets with sweets to die for. This also calls for a river cruise with wine, cheese grapes and breathtaking views. German nightlife is really exciting. You'll find elegance, entertainment and lots of fun.
Places on the proposed agenda:
1. Munich: Here we would visit the University and the Stadleheim Prison. This is about the students and teachers who made up the White Rose. That group simply created and passed out leaflets critical of the Third Reich government. Sophie Scholl was just 21 years old when she was arrested, tried, convicted and beheaded within four days. We will visit the places here where Adolph Hitler brought National Socialism into the world’s spotlight. The Dachau Concentration Camp is near Munich where many resisters or there spouses were sent for punishment.
2. Frankfurt: Here was the site of the second major war crimes trial after the Nazi government fell.
3. Berlin's Bendlerblock German Resistance Memorial Center: This great city is the location of the German Resistance Museum dedicated to the victims of judicial Tyranny. It is the site of the firing squad executions of Colonel Claus Van Stauffenberg and the other conspirators that tried to stop Hitler in the Wolf’s Lair Bombing. Here you can learn about 5000 people murdered in the name of the law. The pictures, stories and actual Nazi court documents are all here for your inspection.
4. Berlin’s Plotzensee Prison Memorial: Here you can see the execution chamber where at least 5000 German citizens were either beheaded or hanged on piano wire. On a single night in this room nearly 300 men and women were placed in a line for their turn on the wire.
5. 8 Prinz Albrecht Street Gestapo and SS Headquarters building: Only a small portion of this infamous structure is left. Next to the remains is a new museum, the Topography of Terror Documentation Center dedicated to exposing this dreaded Homeland Security organization. They have thousands of photographs and 12 years of police related reports for viewing. Here you can learn about turning neighborhood busybodies and your own children into snitches.
6. Berlins People’s Court: allied bombing destroyed this courthouse that took the life of the court’s President, Roland Frisler in 1944. Today the beautiful Sonny Center stands there with many wonderful restaurants and great stores. There is a simple brass marker at the court’s former entrance.
7. Berlin’s Spandau Prison: The actual prison is a closed supermarket but there are a significant number of buildings of this military complex of similar architecture. This is of course where the imprisoned war criminals such as Rudolph Hess and Albert Speer were held for decades after the war.
8. Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum: The Nazi regime felt the need for preventative detention of political dissidents in 1936 so that visitors to the Olympic Games would see no signs of resistance. They quickly rounded up their detractors and interred them in this concentration camp near Berlin. This place housed all manner of misfit, criminals, homosexuals and the racially rejected. More than 200,000 people were detained here until it was liberated in 1945. Needless to say tens of thousands did not survive incarceration here. The Soviets quietly continued using the facility for their own agenda for years after the war.
9. Nuremberg: Here is where the Nazis promulgated their race laws, outlawing Jews and stripping them of their citizenship. This is also where the Hall of Justice that was the scene of the first and largest War Crimes Trial. Also here is that stadium where Adolph Hitler addressed thousands in a military display of might.
To do this right I’d plan on about ten days. Many will want to explore other German or European cities and can do so once this tour is concluded.
I would also shoot a broadcast quality video of our adventures that would be distributed to everyone on this tour.
I want to plan this tour for this summer so anyone interested needs only to click on my color picture in the sidebar and send me an e-mail.
If I have some takers I will work to get the best possible deal for an unforgettable trip of a lifetime. A smaller group may be more desirable and the cost may insure that. I will gather costs based on the response.
For follow-up information let me direct you to two DVD's. Get the Blu-Ray version of Valkerie starring Tom Cruise. The two hours of extras will give you lots of information. The second one is, Sophie Scholl, the Final Days. That film is about a 21 year-old girl, her brother and a friend caught passing out anti-Nazi hand bills for a group called, The White Rose.
UPDATE: The cost for great accommodations so far is coming in around $3,000 Per person based on double occupancy. Meals other than hotel breakfasts are extra.