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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Justice delayed.

The incomparable Detroit News reporter Charlie LeDuff has a disturbing report out about a Nazi death camp guard who has managed to evade deportation thanks to the lax enforcement efforts of the authorities.

Moreover, "Nazi death camp guard" is not a colorful adjective--Johann Leprich was an actual Nazi, the worst of the worst, a member of the SS Death's Head unit, tasked with operating the extermination camps. Leprich was at Mauthausen, which practiced "extermination through labor."

Rather like Eddie Murphy's Buckwheat assassin, Leprich wasn't shy about telling folks, either:

The feds did not pursue Leprich -- choosing to believe his wife and neighbors who said he had fled to Windsor. But if Leprich did indeed go to Canada, he did not go for long. His neighbors said they saw him taking walks under the cover of darkness over the years. He renewed his driver's license in person. His Social Security check was sent to his Clinton Township home. He even told his neighbors he was a Nazi.

"I knew he was in the SS and worked at a camp," said Ike Sonntag, who lives directly across Capper Drive. "But why go after him now? To me it's a big fat waste of money because I think the guy's going to die."

LeDuff helpfully illustrates why Leprich should be sent out of the country via the next available catapult:

Sam Offen cannot forget about it. He is a survivor of Mauthausen, a young Jew who was interned there from June 1944 through May 5, 1945, when American forces liberated him. Though Offen does not remember Leprich, he does remember men like him who stood sentry on the perimeter of the camp and the quarry where Offen was forced to work at slave labor. Offen lives just 30 miles from Leprich.

"There were 180 steps in the quarry," remembered Offen, now 88. "Run down. Pick up a big stone, put it on your shoulder. All day long. Run down. Run up. Run down and up with that heavy stone on your shoulders. The Nazis were so cruel they did not even have to use bullets to kill us. All they did was push us down to our death, from the top of the quarry to the floor of the quarry.

"I know Leprich's neighbors probably claim he is such a nice person. But how can they claim these people are not murderers?" Offen asked. "If we survivors never get justice, then how can we say anything will change?"

Read the whole thing, which includes the sketch of the investigative efforts of the impossibly named Nazi hunter Steve Rambam.

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