We do not know the exact number of Nazi criminals since the available documentation is incomplete. The Nazis themselves destroyed many incriminating documents and there are still many criminals who are unidentified and/or unindicted.
Those who committed war crimes include those individuals who initiated, planned and directed the killing operations, as well as those with whose knowledge, agreement, and passive participation the murder of European Jewry was carried out.
Those who actually implemented the "Final Solution" include the leaders of Nazi Germany, the heads of the Nazi Party, and the Reich Security Main Office. Also included are hundreds of thousands of members of the Gestapo, the SS, the Einsatzgruppen, the police and the armed forces, as well as those bureaucrats who were involved in the persecution and destruction of European Jewry. In addition, there were thousands of individuals throughout occupied Europe who cooperated with the Nazis in killing Jews and other innocent civilians.
We do not have complete statistics on the number of criminals brought to justice, but the number is certainly far less than the total of those who were involved in the "Final Solution." The leaders of the Third Reich, who were caught by the Allies, were tried by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. Afterwards, the Allied occupation authorities continued to try Nazis, with the most significant trials held in the American zone (the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings). In total, 5,025 Nazi criminals were convicted between 1945-1949 in the American, British and French zones, in addition to an unspecified number of people who were tried in the Soviet zone. In addition, the United Nations War Crimes Commission prepared lists of war criminals who were later tried by the judicial authorities of Allied countries and those countries under Nazi rule during the war. The latter countries have conducted a large number of trials regarding crimes committed in their lands. The Polish tribunals, for example, tried approximately 40,000 persons, and large numbers of criminals were tried in other countries. In all, about 80,000 Germans have been convicted for committing crimes against humanity, while the number of local collaborators is in the tens of thousands. Special mention should be made of Simon Wiesenthal, whose activities led to the capture of over one thousand Nazi criminals.
Courts in Germany began, in some cases, to function as early as 1945. By 1969, almost 80,000 Germans had been investigated and over 6,000 had been convicted. In 1958, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; West Germany) established a special agency in Ludwigsburg to aid in the investigation of crimes committed by Germans outside Germany, an agency which, since its establishment, has been involved in hundreds of major investigations. One of the major problems regarding the trial of war criminals in the FRG (as well as in Austria) has been the fact that the sentences have been disproportionately lenient for the crimes committed. Some trials were also conducted in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR; East Germany), yet no statistics exist as to the number of those convicted or the extent of their sentences.
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My initial impression of the museum was that they should really invest in more elevators and stairways. There were so many people getting on and off the elevators and getting in each otherâs way that I thought I would not have enough time to see all the exhibits. But once on the tour, I was completely focused on the many different exhibits. The many artifacts from the holocaust were amazing. Complete Nazi war uniforms, and weapons, actual concentration camp bunk beds, and many personal effects belonging to victims and survivors. The exhibit that most impressed me was the replica of the entry gates to a concentration camp and the replica of a gas chamber. The exactness and detail was incredible.
The two exhibits that made the biggest impression on me were the L.A. riot exhibit and the holocaust survivor guest speaker. The L.A. riot exhibit consisted of an interactive time line that portrays the series of event that led to the riots starting at the beating of Rodney King, to the acquittal of the police officers involved, to the riots and on to the aftermath. Each section has consists of video and text of the topic, the has a question and answer section where I was given the opportunity to voice my opinion, then the computer showed a graph showing the opinions of others. The other exhibit wasnât actually an exhibit, it was an actual holocaust survivor that told of her experiences before, during and after the holocaust. And at the end of the lecture, she held a question and answer session. Her name was Greta Goldberg, she was 18 years old at the time of her incarceration at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Although she was unskilled, she worked as a nurse in the camp hospital. Fortunately, her cousin was a doctor and was able to pass her off as a nurse to the guards. Her stay in Auschwitz definitely wasnât a pleasant one, but it was better than most others. Mrs. Goldberg interacted with Josef Mengele almost on a daily basis as he came through the hospital to decide who lived and who died. She talked of how hard it was for her to live a somewhat decent life while her friends and family lived in squalor. Mrs. Goldberg and her cousin were the only members of her immediate family to survive the camp. She lost both parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, a total of 35 relatives. At the end of her story she was asked if she still missed her parents. She replied with a poem. It said that during the whole experience, she was so sure that her family was alive because the guards told her so that she didnât mourn for them. When she was liberated after 8 months of incarceration she was sure that they would be waiting for her at home, so she still didnât mourn for them. And by the time she realized that they werenât coming home, she hadnât yet mourned for them, and so 55 years later she still mourns for them.
I donât feel that I learned anything new as far as racism, injustice, or intolerance are concerned, I think that I have a clear understanding of the mechanics of these things. What I did learn from my visit to The Museum of Tolerance are the stories of individuals that were witness to the events that took place during the L.A. riots and the holocaust.
The L.A. riot exhibit allowed me to see the many acts of courage and acts of injustice that I was previously unaware of. This exhibit affected me more than the holocaust survivor guest speaker because it was personal to me. My father is a Los Angeles police officer and was called into action at the onset of the riot. My mom and I didnât hear from him for almost 24 hours and didnât know what to think. We were more concerned with our own drama than the many other dramas portrayed on the news. But in seeing the riot exhibit, I was almost moved to tears by viewing the atrocities people were inflicting on other people and the heroic acts of kindness of other people. I knew about Reginald Denny and the people who lost their businesses, but there were many other stories that were just as bad and not publicized that I was unaware of. For example there was one man who was beaten unconscious, then had his genitals spray painted by his attackers and then there were the others who were pulled from their cars and beaten as equally bad as Reginald Denny, but werenât as publicized because the media didnât have as clear of a shot of the incidents. And in the midst of all these atrocities, I didnât realize that there were good Samaritans who risked their lives to help the people being victimized. There was the priest who stood by an unconscious man and defended him from hoodlums, passersby who picked up and drove people to safety and the many nearby residents who provided shelter for victims and potential victims. These people are truly heroes. I thought these were only isolated incidents, but as it turns out there were a lot of good people taking action.
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