Ex-Nazi SS guard walks free

2nd February 2004, Comments 0 comments

2 February 2004 , HAGEN - An elderly former Nazi Waffen SS guard walked out of a court in Germany a free man Monday after an expert witness testified he was too frail to stand trial for killing a civilian Dutch detention camp inmate in 1944. The court in Hagen dismissed the case against Herbertus Bikker, 88, who was convicted by a Dutch court in the case immediately after the war but who escaped prison and fled to Germany, where he successfully fought extradition for 50 years. Bikker's victim was identifie

 

2 February 2004

HAGEN - An elderly former Nazi Waffen SS guard walked out of a court in Germany a free man Monday after an expert witness testified he was too frail to stand trial for killing a civilian Dutch detention camp inmate in 1944.

The court in Hagen dismissed the case against Herbertus Bikker, 88, who was convicted by a Dutch court in the case immediately after the war but who escaped prison and fled to Germany, where he successfully fought extradition for 50 years.

Bikker's victim was identified as Jan Houtmann, one of some 450 persons detained at a Nazi camp in Ommen, occupied Holland.

The detainees were primarily local people accused of being resistance fighters or of having traded on the black market or of having attempted to hide Jewish neighbours.

The killing was mentioned in a Stern magazine interview with Bikker in 1997.

"I guess you could say I put him out of his misery, all right," Bikker was quoted by Stern as having said. The incident was recorded as "shot while trying to escape".

Bikker was so notorious amongst camp inmates that he was known as the "Executioner of Ommen" during his stint there from November 1944 to the waning days of World War II in April 1945.

A Dutch citizen by birth, Bikker was tried and sentenced after the war by a court in the Netherlands but escaped and fled across the border into Germany at Christmas 1952.

There, he claimed German citizenship under terms of a directive issued by Adolf Hitler in 1943 granting that right to all foreign- born members of the Nazi Waffen SS.

As a German citizen, he was able to stymie efforts by Dutch authorities to have him extradited back to the Netherlands. Under West German law at the time, German citizens could not be extradited to a foreign country against their consent.

Bikker slipped into obscurity until famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal located his whereabouts in Germany a decade ago. Again Dutch authorities sought his extradition, and again Germany turned down the request.

Protesters staged vigils outside his home in the town of Hagen, drawing international attention to the case, resulting in the latest trial.

DPA
Subject: German news

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