Voice of the Jewish News: No best-before date

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Voice of the Jewish News: No best-before date

There will be those who ask what the point is in pursuing elderly Nazi criminals. This week's editorial says their victims deserve justice, regardless of the perpetrators' age

John Demjanjuk, formerly known as Ivan, was taken into court on a stretcher for his trial as a suspected Nazi war criminal. He was convicted of being an accessory to murder in 2011 (Photo: dpa)
John Demjanjuk, formerly known as Ivan, was taken into court on a stretcher for his trial as a suspected Nazi war criminal. He was convicted of being an accessory to murder in 2011 (Photo: dpa)

Prosecutors in states across Germany are in a battle against time. Within just a few short years – perhaps months – old age will have claimed the last of those who may have assisted Nazi genocide.

One of the latest suspects set for trial over alleged Third Reich war crimes is so old that court sessions requiring his presence will be limited to two hours a day. The 100-year-old defendant has not been named, as is German custom in criminal trials, but the indictment is quite clear: prosecutors say he was an accessory to murder at a concentration camp near Berlin.

Last week, it emerged that more than a dozen other indictments are in the works. All suspects are nonagenarians, some in ill health. Other prosecutions have collapsed because the suspects are suffering from dementia and cannot possibly defend themselves in court.

There will be those who ask what the point is in pursuing the elderly and the infirm. Should there not be a sense of compassion and dignity for their twilight years?

But, like the suspects, a large but dwindling number of Holocaust survivors are alive too. They witnessed the horrors of the darkest days of the Second World War. They were denied compassion and dignity. They now deserve to witness as much justice as possible.

Then there are today’s young people, likely the first generation not to have an opportunity to hear first-hand testimony from a survivor. We must teach them that justice is always a cause worth pursuing, however late.

Germany is responsible for some of the worst crimes in history, yet has done more than any other country in the pursuit of atonement. It would not be right to stop now.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: