Nazi Sentenced in Absentia for Sending Children to Die

From Associated Press

Finally, 57 years after their deaths, the children of convoy No. 77 have had their day in court.

The man who deported them to the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz--Alois Brunner--was tried in absentia Friday for crimes against humanity and sentenced by a French court to life imprisonment.

The verdict was largely symbolic, since there is almost no chance the Austrian-born former Gestapo officer will go to jail. Brunner reportedly found safe haven in Syria decades ago and hasn’t been seen alive since the early 1990s.


But prosecutor Philippe Bilger said the case must proceed because of the horrific nature of the crime.

“Whether Brunner is dead or alive, present or absent, there is still room for justice,” Bilger told the court.

Brunner, who sent thousands of Jews to their death during the Holocaust, was sentenced to death in absentia twice in 1954.

But neither tribunal dealt with the specific crime that was the focus of Friday’s case: the deportation to Auschwitz on July 31, 1944, of 250 children from Jewish orphanages and 100 other children who were arrested at the same time. The children were part of the last convoy to leave France for German death camps.

French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld said he spent years compiling evidence for the Brunner case. Klarsfeld said his purpose was to find a permanent place for the names of the young victims in the French historical record.

Dozens of people gathered outside the Paris courthouse, many holding photographs of deported children.