"Two Dutch journalists from the TV current affairs programme Een Vandaag will stand trial in the German town of Eschweiler for breaching German privacy laws. In 2009, Jan Ponsen and Jelle Visser filmed an interview with former Dutch Nazi Heinrich Boere with a hidden camera while he was staying at a nursing home in Eschweiler." The trial date has been set for 9 February. If convicted, the two reporters face a maximum of three years in prison. The website of Een Vandaag says they expect Ponsen and Visser will be found guilty of the charges.
The site explains that Boere’s lawyer cancelled an interview appointment which Een Vandaag made after it became known that Boere was to stand trial in Germany for crimes committed during the Second World War.
The reporters then went to Eschweiler with a hidden camera.
Families of the victims had made several attempts to contact the former SS member, but had never received any correspondence from Boere, says Een Vandaag.
Boere first filed a complaint in 2010 with the Netherlands Press Council, which ruled in favour of the reporters. The council said the two had not behaved dishonourably.
The 'former' Nazi, whose father was Dutch and mother German, grew up in the Netherlands. He was a member of an SS commando unit called Silver Fir, tasked with killing suspected resistance members or supporters during the Second World War.
On several occasions, he admitted to shooting in cold blood pharmacist Fritz Bicknese, bicycle shop owner Teunis de Groot and Frans-Willem Kusters. But he argued that, as a member of an SS unit, he risked being sent to a concentration camp if he refused.
In 1947, he escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp and returned to his birthplace in Germany. He was sentenced to death in Amsterdam in absentia in 1949. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
Afterwards, he remained a free man, working as a coal miner in Germany until 1976. Germany refused to extradite him in the 1980s, saying it was unable to determine if he was German or stateless.
In 2008, Boere was indicted in Germany for the shooting of the three Dutch civilians. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2010 after confessing to the killings. Last December Boere, who is in a wheelchair, was taken by ambulance from his nursing home in Germany to a prison hospital.
A German court rejected an appeal against his jail term and a medical expert said he was fit to serve his sentence at a "suitable" facility.
The Bicknese and De Groot families say they’re dismayed by the German decision to prosecute the Een Vandaag journalists. Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff and the Simon Wiensenthal Center in Jerusalem also expressed surprise.
The leader of the Dutch Socialist Party, Emile Roemer, and conservative VVD MP Ard van de Steur said they will offer public support to the journalists.
Boere's SS colleague Klaas Carel Faber, No. 3 on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's list of wanted Nazis and now age 89, is also a former member of the Nazi SS unit Silver Fir. He was sentenced to death by a Dutch court in 1947 for murdering 22 Jews.
Faber originally came from Haarlem and served in Kommando Feldmeijer during World War II. He was a member of the Silbertanne group which was responsible for the deaths of around 50 resistance members. He was also part of the firing squad at Westerbork concentration camp, together with his brother Pieter.
He escaped from the Breda prison in western Netherlands in 1952 with six other former SS men and eventually started working for the carmaker Audi based in Ingolstadt.
Stille Hilfe für Kriegsgefangene und Internierte (German for "Silent assistance for prisoners of war and interned persons") abbreviated Stille Hilfe, is a relief organization for arrested, condemned and fugitive SS members.
From the beginning of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, the group sought to influence public opinion to prevent the execution of the death penalty. In press campaigns, personal and open letters and petitions, the war criminals were usually represented as innocent victims; pure command-receivers, irreproachable and who would have to suffer bitter injustice by 'victor's justice'.
In the following decades Stille Hilfe worked somewhat in secret with revisionist organizations and prominent protagonists of the "Auschwitzlüge" (Auschwitz lie) like Thies Christophersen and (convicted terrorist) Manfred Roeder, and co-operated with relevant foreign organizations and personalities e.g. (Florentine Rost van Tonningen, Leon Degrelle). At the same time Stille Hilfe maintained contacts with conservative politicians such as Franz Josef Strauß, Theodor Oberländer, Jörg Haider and probably also Alfred Dregger, though there is no clear proof. By a not insignificant number of inheritances and by regular donations, the organization controls considerable funds.
Stille Hilfe supported the former concentration camp guard Hildegard Lächert, as well as Klaus Barbie, Erich Priebke and Josef Schwammberger, who from 1942 to 1944 was commander of German labour camps in occupied Poland, involved in the massacres of Przemyśl and Rozwadów.
Although firmly rooted in the neo-Nazi fringe, it developed amicable relations with conservative West German politicians, such as CDU Bundestag Parliamentary leader Alfred Dregger, who praised the efforts of Stille Hilfe in 1989.
In 1991, a Stille Hilfe representative attended the graveside ceremony in Kassel of Michael Kühnen, the prominent Neo-Nazi leader who died of HIV-related complications. Stille Hilfe laid a wreath that bore the SS motto "Michael Kühnen - His Honor Is Loyalty".
It is known that Stille Hilfe representatives have an influence in government and judiciary circles, particularly in Bavaria. Any Nazi facing conviction opts to have their legal proceedings undertaken in Bavaria, where 'sympathetic' judges ensure any claims by foreign countries in particular, are obfuscated.
With this level of involvement, we suspect the Nazis-in-suits behind Stille Hilfe are responsible for the legal case against these Dutch journalists. If they are convicted, it will be a dark day for justice, and a severe warning for the future of Europe.