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Germany Charges Ex-SS Soldier for Holocaust Denial, Victim Blaming

© Wikimedia Commons/Luc BeaumadierMemorial for the 86 men killed in Ascq massacre on 1 April 1944 in Ascq, France, by the Waffen-SS during the Second World War.
Memorial for the 86 men killed in Ascq massacre on 1 April 1944 in Ascq, France, by the Waffen-SS during the Second World War. - Sputnik International
German prosecutors have leveled charges against a 96-year-old man following his appearance on a television program in which he both denied the impact of the Holocaust and blamed victims for their own deaths.

Former SS soldier Karl Munter faces up to seven years in prison for incitement and “disparaging the memory of the deceased” for his remarks during a show broadcast by German channel ARD last November, reported German newspaper The Local on Wednesday.

In 1944, Munter, a member of the “Hitler Youth” SS division, was part of a 50-soldier train derailed by an explosion triggered by members of the French Resistance in Lille, France. He was 21 at the time, and no soldiers were injured in the incident.

Despite suffering zero casualties, the Hitler Youth battalion, led by Obersturmführer Walter Hauck, took “revenge” on April 1, 1944, against dozens of men in the nearby village of Ascq, France. A total of 86 men, aged between 15 and 75, were slaughtered by the SS soldiers.

"If I arrest men, I have responsibility for them, and if they run away, I have the right to shoot them," Munter said during the November broadcast. He went on to deny that there were even millions of Jews on the Earth at the time of World War II, when some 6 million Jewish people were murdered in the Holocaust.

"The accused did not dispute giving the information to journalists, but he said he did not know that the interview was recorded and would be later broadcast," prosecutors in Germany’s Lower Saxony state said in a statement obtained by The Local. "He also did not view his statements as incitement and therefore thought he would not be liable to prosecution."

Munter faces up to five years in prison for his incitement charge and a maximum of two years behind bars for “disparaging the memory of the deceased.”

This is not Munter’s first Holocaust-related run-in with a justice system.

A 1949 French military tribunal sentenced Munter and eight others from his unit to death, but according to The Telegraph, the victims’ widows requested the sentences be commuted to life imprisonment.

The ex-SS soldier would later receive a pardon for his role in the massacre amid French-German reconciliation efforts in 1955.

Munter’s 1949 conviction in France also afforded him the procedural defense of double jeopardy, allowing him to avoid a German prosecutor’s attempt at locally reopening his war crimes case in March 2018.

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