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How Is Justice Served in the Case of Former SS Guard Michael Gruber?

July 15, 2001

Although he served three years in Hitler's army and was an armed concentration camp guard, Michael Gruber claims that he never touched a prisoner ("Unforgiven," by Katherine Marsh, June 17). That's a feat comparable to serving three years as a dentist without touching teeth. Who did Gruber guard? Other SS members?

Let's assume that Gruber was indeed that rarest of creatures, a benign SS guard. What is so distasteful is that Marsh's article is not only an apologia for purportedly low-level Nazis such as Gruber, but also a diatribe against the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations. Why continue to spend millions of dollars to track down and deport Nazi war criminals, Marsh seems to ask. They're all so old now.

Well, the reason they are all old is because they have gotten away with their crimes for almost 60 years. They have had the privilege of growing old peacefully--something denied their millions of victims. Just because they have had the good fortune to elude justice for decades does not mean that they are now the pitiful and the persecuted.

Linda M. Stock

Calabasas

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Boo hoo! Poor Michael Gruber. Elderly, infirm and perhaps unable to die in the United States at the ripe old age of 86. I wish my father's parents, grandparents, siblings, wife and two young children had had the opportunity to die at the age of 86. Instead they all perished in concentration camps guarded by people like Michael Gruber.

Margot Stern Bennett

Culver City

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It is a terrible shame that elderly Croatian Michael Gruber, who was so severely buffeted by Europe's battles, now has to face the wrath of [OSI director] Eli Rosenbaum--a man so vengeful that he has lost his own humanity--and that our government pays for this futile exercise.

Frances Russell

Burbank

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I am a survivor of 3 1/2 years of Nazi concentration camps. I was not yet 15 when incarcerated. By the war's end I was 18. In my years at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dora, I did not meet an SS guard who was a saint. Let's not have sentimental feelings for Gruber because he is sick and old. He participated (directly or indirectly) in the misery of prisoners and the torture and killing of millions.

G. B. Benedict

Woodland Hills

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With a staff of 34 and an expenditure of more than $4 million, plus trips to Europe [and the help of] translators, historians and researchers, the OSI gets not [Hitler's right-hand man] Martin Bormann, but Michael Gruber. Obviously there is a sweet deal here for the Nazi hunters, as there is no guarantee that the former prison guards will die in their 80s. They may live to be 105. Thus Eli Rosenbaum and company can hope to reach retirement age while hunting former prison guards--with taxpayer money. What a shameful waste of resources!

Mauricio D'Tejada

Claremont

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Gruber is more than a former New Jersey garage mechanic. He was a member in good standing of the Waffen SS, and in that capacity he served as a guard at one of the Nazi death camps. His advanced age is irrelevant. Millions of decent, innocent human beings did not have the luxury of reaching Gruber's age because of Gruber and his SS brethren. I, for one, will save my tears for the victims murdered by those SS officers. Gruber's deportation order should be enforced.

Roberta Rubin

Los Angeles

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To say that Eli Rosenbaum and his associates at the OSI are working for justice is ludicrous. Only the naive fail to see that the U.S. government is subsidizing the personal political agenda of Rosenbaum. Government employees such as Rosenbaum and Kenneth Starr ruin the lives of numerous citizens at the taxpayers' expense. I challenge Rosenbaum and his OSI team to consider working with the same fervor in investigating the Palestinian Holocaust that is currently taking place in the Middle East when they are done destroying the lives of innocent people such as Gruber.

Steve Horbol

Oceanside

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I fail to have any sympathy for Gruber. The U.S. isn't trying to put him in jail. They're simply saying that he should go back to his country to face justice if his country decides to take up his case. Why are we protecting him? Because he is a citizen? If he has citizenship, he got it under false pretenses. In recent years, many Latin American immigrants have been shipped back to their countries for relatively minor crimes (such as selling marijuana) that happened many years ago. They've been ripped away from spouses and children who cannot support themselves. Those are the people I feel sympathy for--not some unrepentant old man who's been allowed to evade his crimes for 50 years.

Leila Lavizadeh

Van Nuys

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