A FORMER Nazi soldier and convicted war criminal who blamed Holocaust victims for their own murder has died at the age of 96 while awaiting trial.
Karl Münter faced five years in jail after denying that six million Jews died in the Holocaust in a brazen televised interview.
The former SS solider was convicted and originally sentenced to death for his role in the massacre of 86 people in the French village of Ascq but was unable to be prosecuted.
At the time of his death he was facing new charges of incitement and disparaging the memory of Nazi victims after claiming those who died had brought their deaths upon themselves by “running away”.
In an interview with German channel ARD last November, Münter said that the victims deserved to be shot and that he didn’t regret participating in the war crimes.
When asked if he had an regrets he said: “No, not at all! Why should I regret it I didn’t fire a shot.”
Münter added: “And the matter of the Jews that is attributed to (Hitler)… be careful.
“There weren’t millions of Jews (in Germany) at the time, that’s already been disproved. This number – six million – is not correct.”
Prosecutors filed charges against the then 96-year-old under under Germany’s Volksverhetzung- or ‘incitement of the masses/’incitement to hatred’ – law.
However, Christina Pannek, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, told local media it was confirmed Münter had died of natural causes.
She added: “The proceedings launched against him have therefore been halted.”
Marguerite-Marie Beghin, the oldest daughter of one of the Ascq victims, told AFP: “The death of Karl Münter means justice won’t be served.
“We didn’t wait for this trial in a spirit of vengeance but because it would have allowed us to express ourselves, to testify, to speak about our victims and suffering.”
The death of Karl Münter means justice won’t be served.
Marguerite-Marie Beghin, daughter Ascq victim
Münter faced up to five years in jail for incitement and two years for disparaging the memory of the deceased.
At the time, German prosecutors said: “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 from Lower Saxony said in a statement.
“He also did not view his statements as incitement and therefore thought he would not be liable to prosecution.”
He was a 21-year-old member of the 12 SS Panzer Division “Hitler Youth” when a train carrying some 50 soldiers of the division was derailed by an explosion on April 1, 1944.
As revenge for the act of sabotage by the Resistance, men and boys ranging from ages 15 to 75 were dragged on to the railway tracks, lined up and shot.
Nazis claimed the victims were “terrorists” to justify the slaying.
Münter said: “If I arrest the men I’m responsible for them. And if they run away I have the right to shoot them.”
However, he denied firing his weapon.
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Münter was sentenced to death in absentia by France in 1949 – long after he returned home – but was pardoned in 1955 as part of the post-WWII reconciliation between France and Germany.
German prosecutors have tried to reopen the case against him for his part in the massacre.
They were forced to drop it last March under the double jeopardy principle because he’d already been convicted and pardoned in France.
What happened in the April 1944 Ascq massacre?
Several months before the allied D-Day invasion of northern France, members of the Resistance detonated explosives on a railway track near Lille.
This derailed a train carrying a battalion from the 12 SS Panzer Division “Hitler Youth”.
No-one was hurt but Lt Walter Hauck, who was in charge of the transport, ordered an SS reprisal attack on the nearby village of Ascq.
Late at night a squad dragged 86 men and boys from their homes to the railway.
They were then lined up and shot in cold blood.
After the war 17 suspects in the massacre were identified, including Walter Hauck and Karl Münter,
But only eight were tried in 1949 and sentenced to death while the others could not be traced and were tried in absentia.
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