Former SS Soldier and Unrepentant Nazi Karl Munter Faces Trial in Germany for Holocaust Denial
A former Nazi SS war criminal who has lived in freedom in Germany since the end of World War Two was charged on Wednesday under the country’s stringent laws against Holocaust denial and hate speech.
Karl Munter — still an unrepentant Nazi at the age of 96 — is being prosecuted for remarks he made to journalists from the German network ARD, in which he claimed that the figure of six million Jews murdered in the Nazi Holocaust was an exaggeration, at the same time justifying a notorious massacre of French civilians by the SS in which Munter himself was a participant.
Munter was charged by the public prosecutor in the north-west German state of Lower Saxony over comments he made to the journalists on camera that were broadcast in November 2018. The former SS man was filmed in secret after he struck up a conversation with an investigative team from ARD at a meeting of neo-Nazis.
Asked about the Holocaust, Munter disputed the figure of six million deaths, exclaiming, “But there weren’t that many Jews in our country!”
When the ARD undercover team asked Munter whether he regretted the murder of 86 French civilians in the village of Ascq in April 1944, he answered that the victims had “brought their fate on themselves.”
Pressed on why he believed this, Munter stated that the slaughter in Ascq had been in retaliation for the derailment of a German military train in the town’s station earlier that day.
Munter served in the 12th SS Panzer Division commanded by Obersturmführer Walter Hauck, who was sentenced to death by a French military court after the war, but then released in 1957. It was Hauck who ordered the massacre in Ascq on Apr. 1-2 1944, after an explosion on the track in the town’s railway station prevented 24 rail trucks from joining the Nazi retreat in the face of the advancing Allied forces. Seventy men were executed at the station, and another 16 were murdered in the village itself, by the SS.
Munter was sentenced to death in absentia in 1949 by a French military court, but was then pardoned in 1955. After the war, he continued his neo-Nazi activities while working for the German post office.
Double jeopardy rules in Europe mean that Munter, who has denied that he personally carried out any of the executions in Ascq, cannot be tried again for his role in the massacre.
If he is convicted for Holocaust denial and hate speech, Munter would serve a maximum prison of sentence of five years — potentially meaning that he will celebrate his 100th birthday in a jail cell.