Former Schutzstaffel (SS) soldier, Karl Muenter has died at age 96. He was involved in a 1944 massacre in the northern French village of Ascq and had been convicted over his role in killing 86 French men and boys. Charges had been filed against Muenter in July 2019 after he made derogatory remarks in an interview broadcasted by German local media alleging that those who were killed in Ascq were themselves to blame for their death. He also disputed the fact that the Holocaust claimed the lives of six million Jews. According to the reports, Karl Muenter died of natural causes.
Karl Muenter was reportedly sentenced to death by a French court in 1949 but was pardoned in 1955 as part of French-German reconciliation efforts after World War II. At the age of 21, he was one of the 50 soldiers in the 'Hitler Youth', which was involved in multiple war crimes. In 1944, a train carrying three companies from the division was derailed near the northern French Village of Ascq by explosives laid by the local resistance fighters. In response, the Nazi authorities arrested all men in the village, dragged them to the railway tracks, and shot them. The Nazi members of the unit who were involved were found in Allied prisoner-of-war camps and were sentenced to death which was later reduced to life imprisonment. Karl Muenter escaped the punishment as he was in Germany, where the constitution forbids the extradition of German citizens.
One of the victim's daughter claimed that the death of Karl Muenter means that justice won't be served. Another victims grandson alleged that if Karl Muenter escapes human justice, let's hope he won't escape divine justice. The German prosecutors had reportedly sought to reopen the war crimes case in hometown but had to drop the case against him in March 2018 because of his prior conviction France under a legal principle under the European Union known as double jeopardy rules. Muenter had also worked for many years at his local post office and had reportedly become an icon for German neo-Nazi groups as he appeared at far-right events.
(With inputs from agencies)