According to an article in today’s news, which you can read in full here:
Seventy years after the end of World War II, [Oskar Groening] a guard who worked at the Auschwitz [Birenau] concentration camp was convicted in Germany on Wednesday [July 15] on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and given a four-year prison sentence.
Oskar Groening was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews. How did that happen?
It was not until May 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were deported, that Auschwitz-Birkenau became the site of the largest mass murder in modern history and the epicenter of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. Oskar Groening had the misfortune to have been assigned to work as a bookkeeper at Auschwitz during this terrible time.
Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944
The photo above shows Hungarian Jews arriving by train, carrying their bundles. Oskar Groening’s job was to take their bundles and remove any money that they might have brought with them. This might not sound like a horrendous crime, but Oskar was depriving the Jews of the opportunity to bribe the guy, on the far right, to let them get by without being sent immediately to the gas chamber. The guy in the striped pajamas is a Sonderkommando, whose job it was to help the Nazis at the ramp.
In 1942, there were 2.7 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, including 1.6 million at the three Operation Reinhard camps, but only 200,000 Jews were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau that year in two old farm houses that had been converted into homicidal gas chambers. [I got this information from the book entitled Auschwitz, a New History by Laurence Rees, which was published in 2005.]
Almost one half of all the Jews that were killed at Auschwitz were Hungarian Jews who were gassed within a period of 10 weeks in 1944. Up until the Spring of 1944, it had been the three Operation Reinhard camps at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, that were the main Nazi killing centers for the Jews, not Auschwitz.
The order to round up the Hungarian Jews and confine them in ghettos was signed by Lazlo Baky of the Royal Hungarian government on April 7, 1944. By this time, Hungary was an ally of Germany.
The deportation of the Hungarian Jews began on April 29, 1944 when a train load of Jews were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau on the orders of Adolf Eichmann, according to the book by Laurence Rees.
According to The Holocaust Chronicle, a huge book published in 2002 by Louis Weber, the CEO of Publications International, Ltd., another train filled with Hungarian Jews left for Auschwitz-Birkeanu on April 30, 1944. The two trains with a total of 3,800 Jews reached Birkenau on May 2, 1944. There were 486 men and 616 women selected to work; the remaining 2,698 Jews were gassed upon arrival. Oskar Groening was found guilty of being an accessory to this crime, because he was there.
The news article continues with this quote:
A judge in the northern German city of Lueneburg convicted Groening for his role at the camp following testimony that he presided over prisoners’ belongings and collected their money before they were marched to their death in gas chambers.
He did not dispute the charges and admitted “moral guilt” for the atrocities. His lawyers argued he should be acquitted because he did not actively facilitate mass murder.
Judge Franz Kompisch nevertheless concluded that Groening played at part in the camp that allowed the Nazi regime to murder hundreds of thousands of Jews.
Hungarian Jews walking to the gas chamber, carrying their bundles
The photo above shows Hungarian Jews walking to the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, carrying their bundles. Was Oskar Groening remiss in his duties? I suspect that these Jews might have been carrying some money in those bundles, ready to bribe one of the guards to let them escape the gas chamber.
This final quote is from the news article:
The four-year sentence [of Oskar Groening] exceeds the three-and-a-half years sought by the prosecution.
“For us, it was not a big question of whether it is three, four, five, six years in prison — that was never a topic,” Thomas Walther, a lawyer who represents 51 co-plaintiffs, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “It is an excellent verdict,” he said.
Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, an organization that represents Jewish interests in 100 countries, said it was the correct decision to put Groening on trial despite his old age.
“Albeit belatedly, justice has been done. Mr. Groening was only a small cog in the Nazis’ death machine, but without the actions of people like him, the mass murder of millions of Jews and others would not have been possible,” Lauder said.
“We urge authorities (in Germany) — and in other European countries — not to relent in the quest for bringing the perpetrators of the biggest crime in the history of mankind to justice,” he added.
Of the approximately six million Jewish men, women and children killed during the Holocaust, around 1.1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz in then-German-occupied Poland.
The case against Groening related to a period between May and July 1944.
Angela Orosz-Richt, 70, a Holocaust survivor born in Auschwitz who now lives in Montreal, Canada, testified at Groening’s trial last month.
“I thank Germany for eventually putting him on trial, although that should have happened decades ago, and although many other perpetrators never had to stand trial for their crimes,” she said in emailed comments to USA TODAY.
Wait a minute! Did I read Angela’s testimony correctly? She was BORN in Auschwitz? How did that happen?
What right does she have to testify against Groening. She was a new born baby at Auschwitz, who knew nothing about Groening standing on the ramp, taking bundles from the new arrivals, and counting their money.
Hungarian Jews waiting for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Click to Enlarge)
The photo above shows Hungarian Jews who are facing the Sauna building where arriving Jewish women and children took a shower. Behind them is the building called Canada, where the possessions of the Jews were stored, but only after Oskar Groening had removed all the money in the luggage.