There are crimes for which it is impossible to atone.
In theory, this is not true. As a religion, we firmly believe that God waits, even to the last moment of your life, for you to truly repent and if you do, you are welcomed into the next world.
In reality, there are crimes so vast and people so guilty, it's almost a given that it won't happen. Such was the sorry life and death of one Soren Kam. It is often said that justice delayed is justice denied - Kam is the perfect proof that this is true. He committed a crime so vast, so evil...and never repented.
These crimes that I write of become a forever kind of thing. Forever the victim will live with it, forever the guilty cannot deny it. It is probably human nature for both sides to be overwhelmed by the magnitude and the finality of that impossibility but impossible it remains, especially now...more than 70 years later.
A few weeks ago I sat with a German man at a table in India as we both contemplated possible cooperation between our companies. The Holocaust was the elephant in the room as we exchanged pleasantries and spoke of the conference underway just a few floors above our table. He ordered a ham and cheese; I ate nothing - not even water - in a land where it is extremely difficult to find anything kosher to eat.
"How would the Israelis feel about this?" he asked me at one point and I countered with, "how would the Germans feel?"
His response was that the Germans would be concerned about being confronted and we talked about my recent dealings with the German section of a company for which I offer technical writing services. I told him about the time one German responded heatedly to a discussion underway with the unfortunate phrase, "we have to find a final solution for this."
"He didn't know what he was saying," the German man in India said quickly and I quickly assured him that every Israeli...every Jew...in the meeting knew this. And yet, there is no denying that the German and Israel have that elephant sitting beside them at every meeting.
Cooperation between our two companies would be, from so many perspectives, a win-win for both sides...it was left at that and in the weeks that have passed since I returned home, I have yet to pursue it further...as does he.
A few weeks ago, a 93-year-old man died in Germany. His death angers me and I feel that anger spreading to the concept of "Germany." This old man that died lived out his life relatively well, untouched by the misery he brought to others. He was never brought to justice for the crimes he committed as Denmark's highest ranking Nazi. It is known that he personally murdered a man...with his own hand and despite two...not one, but TWO extradition requests, Soren Kam was allowed to live out his life as a free man in Germany.
"The fact that Soren Kam, a totally unrepentant Nazi murderer, died a free man in Kempten [Bavaria] is a terrible failure of the Bavarian judicial authorities," the Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff said in a statement. "Kam should have finished his miserable life in jail, whether in Denmark or Germany," the Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi hunter, Ephraim Zuroff, said after Kam's death on March 23.
After the war, Kam fled to West Germany, changed his name, and was given citizenship in 1956. For forty years, he lived with his past, his secrets and yes, his continued hatred. He remained a Nazi...hiding his disgusting past, hunted by those who wanted to bring him to justice. More than 40 years later, in 1999, the Danish Justice Ministery finally got around to requested an extradition of Kam, but Germany refused.
The Germans refused a second request in 2007 after a Germany court claimed that the cold-blooded killing of the man was not murder but manslaughter, and based on that ruling, the statute of limitations for manslaughter had expired. Germany protected its Nazi to the end.
Meanwhile, a clearly unrepentant Kam was reported to have continued to attended veterans' rallies of SS men and continued a liaison with Heinrich Himmler's daughter. Like Kam, she too had no shame and was well-known for her dedication to assisting a global network for SS members.
"Kam should have finished his miserable life in jail, whether in Denmark or Germany," Zuroff said.
Jews firmly believe in a better world that follows this one, one in which your place is often determined by the actions of this world, the kindnesses you do, the compassion you show. What was denied you in this world, may be yours in the world to come; what sins you perform in this world, are paid for in the next. There is no eluding justice; there is only the truest, highest, purest justice for all.
Kam showed no kindness, offered no compassion - and in the heavens above, there was a communal sigh of relief on March 23 when Kam breathed his last because now is there, in the most important court that has ever existed.
Ephraim Zuroff was completely right - Kam should have finished his miserable life in jail and the failure for that not happening remains on the head of Germany. There are sins for which you can never atone. There was no justice meted out to Soren Kam...but that is not surprising.
The only comfort is that as the victims of Soren Kam, of the Nazi party, and of the German judicial system that failed to punish their tormentors, are under the cherishing protection of the God of Israel, where they will forever remain, Kam has now joined the rest of his colleagues in a hell beyond their worst nightmares. The fires that burn there are eternal, the misery they caused in their lives a shadow compared to what they suffer now.
When someone dies, Jews say, "Baruch Dayan Emet." Blessed is the True Judge.
Now, after Kam's death, we say the same thing - Baruch Dayan Emet.