Outrage after German foreign minister calls Nazi criminals ‘men’ without mentioning their nationality

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ post on Twitter on the anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials has sparked backlash from social media users and commentators. In the entry, the head of German diplomacy called the perpetrators of Second World War crimes “men” and did not define their nationality as German.

“Exactly 75 years ago, the Nuremberg trials were initiated. Men responsible for the most heinous crimes in history were judged before the court. Despite the weight of the crimes bearing upon the accused, the judges gave them a just trial. This was a triumph of civilization over barbarity,” he wrote. 

Moreover, German ambassador to Poland Arndt Freytag von Loringhovenused exactly the same word “men” while posting his tweet on Nuremberg trials anniversary in Polish.

Social media users immediately accused the German politician of refusing to cite the nationality of the criminals.

Historian and professor Grzegorz Kucharczyk of the Polish Academy of Sciences stressed, in context of Maas’s tweet, that “one might guess that maybe the statement concerned men who knew what they wanted and were adults who were aware of their crimes. If this statement is interpreted in this way — although this is a very kind interpretation — then it is shocking nevertheless.”

The professor emphasized that the lack of definition of who exactly was sentenced 75 years ago was “incredibly telling.”

“Such shorthand is not proper. People often think that this is nitpicking, but if one ignores such facts, remains silent, then unimaginable things begin happening. It leads to rewriting the history of the Second World War,” he said.

The Nuremberg trials against German perpetrators of war crimes during the Second World War were initiated 75 years ago on Nov. 20, 1945, and lasted until October 1946.

For the first time in history, the leaders of a state faced trial for the perpetration of international crimes. Twenty-two people were put on trial and 12 were sentenced to death, including Hermann Goring, Hans Frank and Julius Streicher. 


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