Klaas Faber: Nazi collaborator who evaded justice for six decades

 

The Dutch-born Nazi collaborator Klaas Faber gained notoriety after his conviction for war crimes in his home country during the Second World War. After escaping from prison in 1952 and fleeing to Germany, he evaded many extradition attempts and lived as a free man in Bavaria until his death.

Born in Haarlem in 1922, into a family with strong Dutch National Socialist ideals, Klaas Carel Faber was the second son of a baker. Following the outbreak of war in 1939, the Netherlands had hoped to remain neutral, but the Wehrmacht invaded on 10 May 1940. Five days later the Dutch forces capitulated. The government and royal family went into exile in London.

A month later, Faber and his brother Pieter Johan joined the Nederlandsche SS (Dutch SS), which by 1942 had been renamed "Germanic SS in the Netherlands", to emphasise its links with the Nazi regime. In May 1943, Faber was granted German citizenship under an edict issued by Hitler in 1943 to all those serving in the SS.

However, unlike thousands of his compatriots, Faber did not volunteer to fight Bolshevism on the Eastern Front. From 1943-44, he served at the Westerbork transit camp, in the north-eastern Netherlands, where Dutch and German Jews, including Anne Frank, and many Roma passed through on their way to the labour and extermination camps.

In June 1944 Faber's father was killed by the Dutch Resistance, prompting Faber to enlist in an SS unit code-named Silbertanne, or Silver Fir, a death squad of 15 men, most of them Dutch, assembled to exact reprisals for attacks by the Dutch resistance on collaborators. He also served with the Sicherheitsdienst, the Nazi internal intelligence agency, and became a member of Sonderkommando Feldmeijer, which carried out assassinations of prominent Dutch citizens, including the author AM de Jong, believed to be resistance sympathisers.

At the end of the war, Faber and his brother were captured, and in 1947 were convicted of taking part in 22 killings between 1944 and 1945, and of aiding the Nazis. Pieter Johan was executed by firing squad but Klaas was sentenced to life in prison on appeal as it could not be proved he had been personally involved in the killings.

In 1952 Faber and six other SS volunteers escaped from prison in Breda and made their way to Essen in West Germany. Under Hitler's directive, which had not been repealed, Faber was, in the eyes of the law, a German citizen. He eventually moved to Ingolstadt, where he secured an office job with the car manufacturer Audi. He lived in modest prosperity and was regarded as a friendly neighbour.

In 1954, the Dutch authorities sought Faber's extradition, but this and subsequent efforts were blocked by the German authorities which asserted that German law prohibited the extradition of its citizens.

In 1957, a Düsseldorf court rejected attempts to bring him to trial in Germany, judging that there was not enough evidence. With the failure of a Dutch request to have him jailed in Germany in 2004, Munich prosecutors received new evidence from the Netherlands and looked into reopening the case in 2006. Although prosecutors conceded that Faber may have been guilty of manslaughter, they ruled that under the statute of limitations the time limit had expired.

Undeterred, in 2010, Dutch prosecutors filed a European arrest warrant, but that was rejected because, as a German citizen, Faber's consent was still needed to extradite him.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the international Jewish human-rights organisation that hunts surviving war criminals, listed Faber among its most-wanted Nazi-era war criminals. They added: "The fact that this murderer of so many innocent people has been protected by Germany for so many decades is a travesty and sends a message that even those convicted of multiple murders can escape justice."

Amid pressure from Israel, the German justice minister had long pressed Bavaria, which has jurisdiction in the Faber case, to deal with it. At the time of Faber's death an Ingolstadt prosecutor was still seeking his imprisonment.

Klaas Carel Faber, Nazi collaborator: born Haarlem, Netherlands 20 January 1922; married (three children); died Ingolstadt, Germany 24 May 2012.

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