Oskar Gröning admits guilt for role in Holocaust and playing a part in 'Nazi machinery'

Publié le par The Guardian By Justin Huggler, Berlin

Oskar Gröning admits guilt for role in Holocaust and playing a part in 'Nazi machinery'

The 94-year-old is on trial accused of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews and says he has no right to ask for forgiveness.

Defendant and German former SS officer Oskar Groening, 94, dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz', sits in a courtroom in LueneburgDefendant and German former SS officer Oskar Groening, 94, dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz', sits in a courtroom in Lueneburg

Defendant and German former SS officer Oskar Groening, 94, dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz', sits in a courtroom in LueneburgDefendant and German former SS officer Oskar Groening, 94, dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz', sits in a courtroom in Lueneburg

Oskar Gröning, the former SS guard known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, admitted guilt for his role in the Holocaust at his trial on Wednesday.

The 94-year-old, who is on trial as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews, said he had no right to ask for forgiveness.

Mr Gröning said he was not personally involved in the killing of Jews, but admitted he played a part in the Nazi machinery.

“I’ve consciously not asked for forgiveness for my guilt,” he said in a written statement read out by his lawyer.

“Considering the scale of what took place in Auschwitz and the crimes committed elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned I have no right to such a request. I can only ask God for forgiveness.” 

The 93 year old Oskar Groening charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for his service as a Nazi SS guard at Auschwitz during World War II

The 93 year old Oskar Groening charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for his service as a Nazi SS guard at Auschwitz during World War II

Mr Gröning told the court he knew about the mass killings of Jews at Auschwitz, and that he had tried to get transferred from the concentration camp several times.

But he said he had not been aware of many of the details that have been described to the court by Holocaust survivors. 

 His statement was read out shortly before harrowing testimony from Irene Weiss, the last survivor to testify to the trial.

The 84-year-old Ms Weiss, who flew in from the US to testify, told the court how she and her family were relieved at first when they were taken to Auschwitz, because they thought it was a work camp and they would survive.

Aged just 13 at the time, she described how she and her sister were separated from the rest of the family.

“We asked the other prisoners, ‘When will we see our families?’” she said.

“A woman pointed to a chimney and said, ‘Do you see the smoke? There is your family.’”

  • Oskar Groening Q and A: Auschwitz expert calls delayed justice a 'disaster'

Ms Weiss showed the court a colour photograph discovered in the 1970s that showed her mother and brothers shortly before their deaths in the gas chambers.

She described how her father used to reward them as children for studying well by pretending coins were falling from the ceiling as a reward. 

Oskar Groening (C), dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz', is assisted by paramedics as he arrives to a courtroom

Oskar Groening (C), dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz', is assisted by paramedics as he arrives to a courtroom

“This was my father, aged 47, who upon arrival in Auschwitz, was forced to work in the Sonderkommando, pulling bodies from the gas chambers,” she said.

“We learned that he was shot not long after being made to do this work.

Ms Weiss responded to Mr Gröning’s statements of regret, looking directly at him across the court room.

“He has said that he does not consider himself a perpetrator, but merely a small cog in the machine,” she said.

“But if he were sitting here today wearing his SS uniform, I would tremble, and all the horror that I experienced as a 13-year old would return to me.”

“He’s being evasive,” Ms Weiss told reporters after the hearing.

“I thought he would apologise clearly and take a little more responsibility.”

Ms Weiss was the last witness to be called. The prosecution now wants to question Mr Gröning, but it is not clear if he will testify.

After that, the trial is expected to move to closing arguments, possibly as early as Thursday. 

 

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