We Won't Have Peace Until We Master Forgiveness

Reuters reports that Johann Leprich has been released from a county jail in Michigan.

Mr. Leprich was a concentration camp guard at Mauthausen in 1943 and 1944. He failed to mention this when applying for entry to the US in 1952 and was naturalized as a US citizen in 1958. His citizenship was revoked in 1987 and US authorities prepared to deport him. He left the US of his own volition, moving to Canada, although he apparently returned to the US at times over the next 16 years.

In 2003, US authorities arrested him at his home in Clinton Township, Michigan, and he has been in jail ever since awaiting deportation. Since no other nation will accept him and he had been held for 34 months longer than is allowed by US law for prospective deportees, he has been released under an agreement in which he must wear an electronic monitor and report to US authorities weekly.

He's 81 years old.

He says he never killed anyone personally. Presumably his work as a guard enabled the killing of victims in the concentration camp. On the other hand, he was trying to survive, too. If he had refused the position at the concentration camp, he would have been forced to go to the front. He says he was forced into the German Army in the first place.

What purpose is served by persecuting such people? To ensure that an event like the Holocaust never happen again? It already has, and is happening -- in Rwanda, in Serbia, in Palestine. Wouldn't it be better to apply the resources spent pursuing Leprich and people like him to fostering peace in the world's hot spots?

It's going to be difficult to achieve peace unless we learn to forgive.

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