Volksgerichtshof in Guantanamo

Roland Freisler presided over the show trials of another regime

I've been buried among memoirs and histories of Nazi Germany lately so the news of today's verdict by an illegitimate, burlesque* court operating inside a room of an abandoned airport control tower within our remote, bargain-rental military base at Guantanamo Bay brings to my mind the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court) established by the Nazi regime after the Reichstag fire. That court continued operating (eventually without Freisler, who was killed in an Allied bombing raid February 3, 1945) until the end of its creators' own gruesome unjustifiable war, initiated several years later.

No, in spite of our government's attempt to maintain the contrary, including commissioning a special film, this is no Nuremberg trial. Interesting fact: Roland Freisler may have been a screamer and a monster, but at least the Nazis had the courage of their convictions: their show trials were open to the public - and filmed exhaustively.

One more thought: Does it mean anything that after all this time we still don't even know the name of this dangerous terrorist, the little man from the other side of the world whom the full power of our state condemned today? It's not in any headline I've seen, and you'll find you have to go well into the first or second paragraph of a news story to find it.

I'm ashamed of my country's government, and don't talk to me about our mute Democrats, the frightening-loyal "opposition". At this moment I see no reason to hope for an end to our fundamentally stupid or simply abominable policies at home or abroad. The patriots of the German Resistance eventually came to understand that only a German defeat could save their country, Europe and the world. It would be good to be able to believe we haven't gone that far ourselves, but I'm not willing to bet on it right now.

The prosecution has announced that even if a defendant ends up acquitted, he (so far they are all men - or boys, at the time they were rounded up) can be thrown right back into a Guantanamo cell or imprisoned in some other rathole which would be equally or even more isolated.

Can we pinpoint the moment when a nation sold its soul?

[image from a currently-inactive site, germanika]

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Published on August 6, 2008 1:23 PM.

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