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  1. #1
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    Germany - Oskar Gröning, 'The Accountant of Auschwitz', goes on trial, age 93

    The trial of 93-year-old Oskar Gröning (Groening) begins today in Lüneburg, (Lueneberg) Germany. Gröning is known as the 'accountant of Auschwitz' (Buchhalter von Auschwitz) because of his role on the selection ramp of the infamous concentration camp, collecting and counting the cash and valuables of newly-arrived victims. He volunteered for the SS at age 20 and is charged with the deaths of 300,000 people. The charges stem from the period May - July 1944 when 425,000 Hungarian Jews were deported there from their homeland. He worked at the camp from 1942 - 44.

    In the past, Gröning has spoken openly about his role because he said he wanted the world to be aware what happened. Since his arrest his attorney has advised him to remain silent and the German legal system allows no plea to be entered before a trial begins. 60 survivors or their relatives from Canada, the US and Israel are co-plaintiffs with the prosecution and will give evidence over the coming weeks. They include Judith Kalmann and Hedy Bohm from Toronto.

    This, and the pending prosecution of two other men in their nineties, are a last-ditch attempt to obtain justice before those involved in running concentration and death camps pass away from old age. The prosecutions have become possible by the precedent set in the prosecution of guard John Demjanjuk, who died before he could serve his sentence.

    The Gröning prosecution was set in motion following the conviction of the Ukrainian-born death camp guard John Demjanjuk in 2012 who the judge ruled had been an accessory to murder simply by working at the camp. With a new zeal and based on evidence gathered by the Central Office for National Socialist Crime in Ludwigsburg, prosecutors last year launched a nationwide hunt for remaining camp guards, including cases opened and closed several times over the years due to a lack of political will.

    They identified 30 former SS members. Deaths and ill health have prevented the prosecution of most of them, but three of them, including Gröning, are now being brought to justice.
    Groening has openly acknowledged serving as an SS non-commissioned officer at Auschwitz, though denies committing any crimes. His memories of the cattle cars packed with Jews arriving at the death camp are just are vivid as Bohm’s.

    “A child who was lying there was simply pulled by the legs and chucked into a truck to be driven away,” he told the BBC in an interview 10 years ago. “And when it screamed like a sick chicken, they then bashed it against the edge of the truck so it would shut up.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-trial-germany

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-wo...e19071615.html

    German language:
    http://m.bild.de/news/inland/auschwi...ildMobile.html

    http://news.nationalpost.com/news/wo...t-of-auschwitz
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  2. #2
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    So. No due process or right to a speedy trial in Germany? Let's wait 70 years. It will be great.


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    Update on the trial so far, heard via radio, is that Gröning has said he has a 'moral responsibility' for what happened and is remorseful but he did not murder anyone. He said he requested transfers three times after witnessing atrocities and mass killings, but permission was refused.

    If found guilty, he will receive a sentence of between three and 15 years.

    ETA Sorry, the last application was accepted and in October '44 he left and was then wounded fighting in the Ardennes.
    Last edited by zwiebel; 04-21-2015 at 08:13 AM.
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    Oh, he also said the moment he arrived at Auschwitz the other guards gave him vodka to drink as they all drank vodka to cope with the mass killings.
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  5. #5
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    Here is a photo of the selection of Hungarian Jews on the ramp in May 1944, when Gröning still worked at the camp (he didn't leave until October). As this was a death camp though, there was really very little selection. Most if not all of the people in the photo went straight to the gas chambers. The lady with the baby being directed left was definitely heading for death. The only children allowed to live for a while there were twins (and a family of circus dwarfs I think), for experimental purposes.

    http://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/...kenau_ramp.jpg
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  6. #6
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    At the same time (between May and December 1944) SS guards at the camp were snapping pictures of their happy moments of relaxation. The photos were only made public in recent years. A US Intelligence officer had them in his keeping and eventually passed them on to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington.

    http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/laug...ersonnel-1942/
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  7. #7
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    He lived a full life. Millions didn't.
    The photos of the SS guards laughing make me sick.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zwiebel View Post
    The trial of 93-year-old Oskar Gröning (Groening) begins today in Lüneburg, (Lueneberg) Germany. Gröning is known as the 'accountant of Auschwitz' (Buchhalter von Auschwitz) because of his role on the selection ramp of the infamous concentration camp, collecting and counting the cash and valuables of newly-arrived victims. He volunteered for the SS at age 20 and is charged with the deaths of 300,000 people. The charges stem from the period May - July 1944 when 425,000 Hungarian Jews were deported there from their homeland. He worked at the camp from 1942 - 44.

    In the past, Gröning has spoken openly about his role because he said he wanted the world to be aware what happened. Since his arrest his attorney has advised him to remain silent and the German legal system allows no plea to be entered before a trial begins. 60 survivors or their relatives from Canada, the US and Israel are co-plaintiffs with the prosecution and will give evidence over the coming weeks. They include Judith Kalmann and Hedy Bohm from Toronto.

    This, and the pending prosecution of two other men in their nineties, are a last-ditch attempt to obtain justice before those involved in running concentration and death camps pass away from old age. The prosecutions have become possible by the precedent set in the prosecution of guard John Demjanjuk, who died before he could serve his sentence.





    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-trial-germany

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-wo...e19071615.html

    German language:
    http://m.bild.de/news/inland/auschwi...ildMobile.html

    http://news.nationalpost.com/news/wo...t-of-auschwitz
    Zwiebel, is that a translation error, or did he truly refer to the child as "it"?

    Or eta, not necessarily a translation error, if he was speaking in English on BBC, or would that be a common error for a native German speaker to make?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tssiemer View Post
    So. No due process or right to a speedy trial in Germany? Let's wait 70 years. It will be great.
    He's accused of committing war crimes which are prosecuted quite differently from the constitutional amendments United States citizens enjoy.

    Chapter 44. War Crimes

    Please don't be blinded by his walker (or, for that matter, his age). This man can claim to be "morally guilty" all he wants. His words do not reflect any remorse whatsoever. Some statements from this article:

    • "The Jews had to hand it in. They did not need it anymore."
    • "In the early days of Auschwitz-Birkenau, they used that farm for gassing. That was the only time I found dead bodies."
    • "What I went through in Auschwitz has accompanied me through all my life"
    • "I was only 80 meters away from the ovens"
    • Groening mused that he didn't know what could have been done differently.


    After 70 years of "what [he] went through all of [his] life" and still, he "does not know what could have been done differently?" I feel no less sorry for this man than I did for Demjanjuk.



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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoosgirl View Post
    Zwiebel, is that a translation error, or did he truly refer to the child as "it"?

    Or eta, not necessarily a translation error, if he was speaking in English on BBC, or would that be a common error for a native German speaker to make?
    Yes, in German Das Kind' is neuter so it's not necessarily meaningful. I can't say the same about his comparing the child to a sick chicken though....
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    81-year-old Eva Kor (who lives in Indiana now) went head-to-head with Gröning in court today. She was one of the dozens of sets of twins saved from the gas chambers so Mengele could experiment on them. She told the court how the last sight she and her twin had of her mother was as she was dragged away with their siblings, arms outstretched towards them. They were 10.

    She asked him if she knew what Mengele injected she and her sister with, but the judge wouldn't allow him to answer. His lawyer said Gröning wanted to help but he didn't think he knew Mengele.

    In his testimony today, Gröning revealed his horror at the cattle truck arrivals of the Hungarian Jews was also tempered with more practical thoughts:

    "If this is Hungary, they have bacon on board," he remembered thinking.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/0...ushpmg00000067
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  12. #12
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    Kor recounted Mengele once looking at her medical charts and laughing sarcastically. "Too bad she's so young," she recalled him saying. "She has only two weeks to live."

    She said: "I knew he was right, but I refused to die."

    Groening was impassive as Kor issued her statement.

    "How do you feel about my forgiving you and all the Nazis for what was done to me?" she also asked. The judge would not allow him to answer Kor's questions, citing court rules.
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/os...-court-n346226
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    Gröning showed no emotion as he described how he watched as the freight trains rolled into the arrival platform at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the prisoners tumbled out. “How was the mood of the people?” judge Franz Kompisch asked him. “Clueless,” Gröning said. “They had no idea what was going on. That changed over time ... as depending on where they had come from and what they had heard, some suspected something, others suspected nothing.”

    ... Asked by Lehmann whether he knew about specific changes that were made during his period of deployment to the organisation of Auschwitz and its management structure, Gröning said: “No, I’m just a poor, small, non-commissioned officer.”

    Outside the courtroom, Kor repeated her feelings of compassion for Gröning, but said: “He’s still rationalising it....
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...ion-to-survive
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Momoffourboys View Post
    He lived a full life. Millions didn't.
    The photos of the SS guards laughing make me sick.
    And how many of those who were complicit in these crimes fled and lived relatively normal lives in other countries?

    ETA: a few years back I was vacationing in Mexico. We were dining in a very "local" restaurant and I noticed a family sitting nearby. Something grabbed my attention...and I told my daughter that I knew, despit their fluent Spanish, that they were a German family. Sure enough, shortly after they gave their order, they began to speak German amongst themselves. I told my daughter that I had the most intense sense that this family were relatives of some "former" Nazi. I can't explain it, but in my heart I just knew.
    Last edited by RR0004; 04-22-2015 at 04:45 PM.

  15. #15
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    Kor is a better woman than I.
    I don't have it in me to forgive.

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