Germany has a complicated and dark twentieth century. Just remember the dismal III Reich. The northern Land of Schleswig-Holstein, is one of those regions where it must hurt to remember. Because, in its day, this region that borders Denmark was one of the German areas where the Nazis achieved more success on their way to power. And, above all, because after the Second World War, the reinsertion of members of the German National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP, according to its German acronym) was commonplace.
Notables of the totalitarian regime of Adolf Hitler also tried to enjoy there, with more or less success, a second chance. "Schleswig-Holstein sadly has that fame. In the 60s and 70s it was known that there were many cases here of authentic hidden war criminals, who lived undisturbed for a decade or more, "says Karen Bruhn, historian at the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel. "In the 60s it was investigated, but the investigations focused on the most relevant people, and many people with a past in the Nazi party could be integrated into the new democratic state," Bruhn writes.
Names like Werner Catel, known to practice euthanasia to children in times of Nazism, is one of those relevant figures. "Catel is a well-known example, he lived until his death in Kiel and was a professor at the University of Kiel after the war," recalls Bruhn. Kiel is the capital of Schleswig-Holstein. Eighty kilometers south of that city lies Lübeck, where Ernst Lautz, who was the Attorney General of the Third Reich, would live until his last days. This man was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment in Nuremberg. He ended up being released early in 1951, which took the opportunity to settle in Lübeck until his death in 1977.
A doctor who practiced euthanasia on children
In the case of Catel, in 1960 his role in the euthanasia system began to be made public to children with mental illnesses in the National Socialist regime. His retirement, in line with the controversy generated, seemed to be a product of circumstances. It has been estimated that some 5,000 people were victims of the euthanasia system that Catel participated in. After his retirement in Kiel, Catel remained intellectually active, writing several books, mainly on his medical specialty, pediatrics.
In early 1939 a farm labourer called Richard Kretschmar requested Catel's permission to euthanise one of his children, now identified as Gerhard Kretschmar, who had been born blind and deformed. Catel deferred the matter and suggested the father write directly to Hitler for permission. Hitler subsequently sent Dr.Karl Brandt to confer with Catel and decide on a course of action. On July 25, 1939 the child was killed.
|Werner Catel after|
After the war Catel took charge of the Mammolshöhe Children's Mental Home near Kronberg , where he continued to rally for the euthanasia of children deemed beyond hope. In 1949 he was found to have committed no grave crimes by a denazification board in Hamburg , and became attached to the University of Kiel in 1954. There was serious discussion after his death in 1981 of establishing a Werner Catel Foundation with $200,000 from his estate, but the idea was finally dismissed in 1984.
A lawyer of the Nazi state
Ernst Lautz, the Nazi state lawyer sentenced to ten years in prison in Nuremberg, for his part,
participated in the execution of laws against Poles and Jews in the territories annexed by the Third Reich in Eastern Europe. That cost him a conviction for war crimes. But that punishment was abbreviated as was also reduced the life sentence imposed on Franz Lautz was released on parole on Jan. 31, 1951, after serving a little more than three years.
In 1936 he became Attorney General in Berlin and moved in 1937 to Karlsruhe. Lautz, who joined the NSDAP in May 1933, became a prosecutor at the People's Court from 1 July 1939. He attended the meeting of the highest jurists of the Reich on 23 and 24 April 1941 in Berlin, in which Viktor Brack and Werner Heyde informed about the "destruction of life unworthy of life" in the gas chambers of the T4 campaign. He was in the trial against participants of the assassination of 20 July 1944 representative of the indictment. On January 30, 1945, he and Roland Freisler appealed to the German justice system to affirm allegiance to the "Führer".
Lautz lived after his release until his death in Lübeck. The pension office in Kiel had its pension claims since December 1, 1952 (1951 and 1952 was entitled to his position and salary as chief prosecutor) of a high-level lawyer on the 1936 under the National Socialists promotion to Attorney General at the Berlin Court of Appeal "shortened". The political scandal in the Federal Republic revealed by the Stuttgarter Nachrichten in December 1956 (after five years) led after another five years of disciplinary juridical battles (it was also about, with which title one was allowed to address him: "Reichsanwalt aD") finally to a " Gnadenpension "of 600 DM. An attempt was not made by Eugen Gerstenmaier, because the treaty for the settlement of war and occupation issues of May 26, 1952 forbade a repeated condemnation by German courts.
Can you get an idea of the thousands killed by this man with that seems a innocent-looking jurist when he is in prison?
Schlegelberger Reich Minister of Justice
Schlegelberger, who was Minister of Justice of the Third Reich between 1941 and 1942.
Schlegelberger was firmly condemned in Nuremberg to life imprisonment. His participation in war crimes and against humanity was proven there.
Schlegelberger became provisional Reich Minister of Justice for the years 1941 and 1942, followed then by Otto Thierack. During his time in office the number of death sentences rose sharply. He authored the bills such as the so-called Poland Penal Law Provision (Polenstrafrechtsverordnung) under which Poles were executed for tearing down German posters. Schlegelberger's attitude towards his job may be best encapsulated in a letter to Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery Hans Heinrich Lammers:
Upon the Führer-order of 24 October 1941 forwarded to me through Mr. State Minister and Chief of the Führer's and Reich Chancellor's Presidial Chancellery, I have handed the Jew Markus Luftglass, sentenced to 2½ years in prison by the Special Court in Katowice, over to the Gestapo for execution.
However, for medical reasons, he was released in 1950. He lived two decades in Flensburg until his death on December 14, 1970. Flensburg, practically on the German-Danish border .For years afterward, he drew a monthly pension of DM 2,894 (for comparison, the average monthly income in Germany at that time was DM 535)
The widow of a Jewish Holocaust architect
Another personality infamous for his connection to the original Nazism of Schleswig-Holstein is Lina Heydrich. This woman died in her hometown, Fehmarn (east of Schleswig-Holstein), in 1985. Lina took much of her life the name of her first husband, Reinhard Heydrich. This high office of the III Reich is considered one of the architects of the Holocaust. Because of its implacable and cold character, Adolf Hitler called him in his day "the man with the heart of steel".
|Heydrich and wife|
Heydrich died in 1942 after being injured in the so-called Operation Anthropoid. This was an attack carried out by Czech and Slovak agents that would end up costing the life to which he was responsible for the Central Office of Security of the Reich and Nazi leader in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia -now the Czech Republic-. His wife, Lina, showed that she never forgot it. She dedicated his memoirs, published in 1976. They were entitled Leben mit einem Kriegsverbrechen (Ed. Ludwig Verlag, 1976) or "Life with a war criminal".
|Heydrich & wife|
Cases like those of Heydrich, Schlegelberger, Lautz or Catel may be the most notorious. But there were a huge number of people with a Nazi past who re-established their lives in Schleswig-Holstein. In post-World War II Germany, denazification did not come immediately after Hitler's suicide or with the German capitulation of May 7, 1945. In the case of Schleswig-Holstein, the fact arises that, before conflict, it was already one of the regions that most support the Nazi party had experienced.
"In the general elections of July 1932, the increase of the votes to the Nazi party reached a record of 51% when in the rest of the country the increase was of 37.7%", according to the accounts of the historian Anthony McEllignott, of the University of Limerick (Ireland). Those who, like him, have studied the Schleswig-Holstein case, note that in no other region of Germany did the Nazi party's support grow in its phase of political ascent.
The most Nazi region in the 30s
Hence Schleswig-Holstein he calls "the brown province". The brown, in the chromatic code with which the German political parties are identified, is the color attributed to the NSDAP. Currently, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel is the black and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) is the red. After the Second World War, the brown influence in German politics could be considered to have disappeared. But the Nazis were still there. In the regional parliament of Schleswig-Holstein, without going any further.
"In Schleswig-Holstein, from the elections to the regional Parliament of 1958, it is known that 50% of the members of the chamber were former members of the Nazi party," explains Bruhn, the history specialist for the northern German Land. "But these members did not have antidemocratic behavior, the old elites of the regime worked here, yes, but integrated into the new country," says this historian, alluding to West Germanyparison, the average monthly income in Germany at that time was DM 535).