WJC welcomes sentencing of Nazi war criminal

July 16, 2015 Agencies
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World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has welcomed the verdict by a court in Lüneburg, Germany which sentenced Oskar Gröning to four years in prison for his complicity in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz in 1944. 

Ronald S. Lauder

Ronald S. Lauder

Lauder declared: “Albeit belatedly, justice has been done. Mr. Gröning was only a small cog in the Nazi death machine, but without the actions of people like him, the mass murder of millions of Jews and others would not have been possible. It was the right decision to put him on trial despite his old age, and it was right that he was handed a jail sentence. He may have to spend the final years in confinement, but that is a small punishment for the unspeakable crimes he abetted.”

The WJC president added: “There must never be impunity or closure for those who were involved in mass murder and genocide, irrespective of their age, and we commend Germany for holding this trial. We urge authorities there – 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.”

Gröning, 94, has been dubbed the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz” for his role in collecting luggage and valuables from incoming Jews between May and July of 1944.

In Australia, Dr Dvir Abramovich commented on behalf of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission: “This trial and deserved conviction of Groening sends an unequivocal message that although seven decades have passed since the end of the Holocaust, the day of judgement awaits the remaining Nazi perpetrators and their accomplices.

There can be no statute of limitations on justice for the indescribable atrocities of the Shoah, and this trial demonstrates that it is never too late to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice. We call on the German authorities to remain committed to this cause, and to use all of their available means to pursue individuals who served in the death camps and in the mobile killing units, even as they near their natural ends.

These trials serve a critical role in educating the young generation about the Holocaust, and are important vehicles in preserving its memory and in combatting the scourge of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. In various ways, such trials reassure us that the victims and survivors will never be forgotten, and that their tormentors will be held accountable and punished for their wicked deeds. We urge all states, including the Australian government, to maximise their efforts in identifying, arresting and prosecuting the last surviving Nazi henchman who were part of the Third Reich’s machinery of evil.”

Comments

3 Responses to “WJC welcomes sentencing of Nazi war criminal”
  1. Victor H PIgott says:

    I am pleased to report that Oscar’s lawyers have lodged an appeal against the conviction and sentence to the German Federal Court of Justice. As Groening was not in custody during the trial, it is unlikely that he will ever serve time in prison given his advanced age and deteriorating health. Any sentence would only begin after his appeal has been heard and then a medical team would evaluate if he is physically capable of withstanding prison.

    I wish to re-iterate that Oscar Goening gave support to all those groups and individuals who fought AGAINST holocaust denial. About 40 years after the war Gröning came across a pamphlet by the holocaust denier Thies Christophersen. He wrote to Christophersen saying:

    “I saw everything, the gas chambers, the cremations, the selection
    process. One and a half million Jews were murdered in Auschwitz. I was
    there.”

    After receiving hundreds of negative comments, many of which were from Neo- Nazis, Groening decided to speak openly about his experiences, and publicly denounce people who maintain the events he witnessed never happened.

    Oscar Groening’s message to Holocaust deniers was:

    “I have seen the crematoria, I have seen the burning pits and I want you
    to believe me that these atrocities happened. I was there”.

    No-one forced Oscar to come out and make these pronouncements. I suspect from the fact that he told the Court he considered himself to be “morally guilty”, that this man has held great guilt for the last 70 years of his life.

    It would be true to say that there is an enormous difference between the young Oscar and the older, wiser Oscar as the younger Oscar was heavily influenced by Nazi propaganda and saw the Jewish people as “state enemies”. However, he has said that the screams of those in the gas chambers have never left him and that he has never returned to Auschwitz because of his shame. He said that he feels guilt towards the Jewish people and for being part of the organization that committed crimes against them. He asks for forgiveness from God and from the Jewish people. As there is absolutely NO evidence to show that Oscar directly hurt anyone at Auschitz, it is time that Germany also learnt forgiveness.

  2. Victor h pigott says:

    This would have to be the most appalling, unjust and unfair conviction and sentence known in history, with the sole exception of Jesus Christ. One, there is no evidence that Oscar Groening committed harm to one single person during his time at Auschwitz, let alone to 300,000 persons. Two, Oscar in his 60s came out and publically and voluntarily rebuked the Holocaust Deniers based on his own personal observations from his time at Auschwitz. Three, Oscar freely gave interviews about his time at Auschwitz in which he was candid and honest about the atrocities he witnessed. I refer in particular to his interviews with the noted historian Professor Rees. Four, Oscar made a number of requests to be transferred from Auschwitz as he was disgusted and revolted by the atrocities he witnessed. Five, there was no evidence before the court that he was an accessory to the crimes committed at Auschwitz. The conviction is based on his sole presence at Auschwitz during the period of the murder of the Hungarian Jews. Even the witnesses had no recollection of his presence. If Oscar had stayed quiet all his life and never publically exposed himself it is likely this trial would never have taken place. In fact he was investigated in the 1970s by the German prosecution authorities but not charged as they had no evidence of any crime committed by Oscar during his time at Auschwitz. They still do not have any evidence. Finally, whatever one can say about the 19 year old Oscar Groening, it is perfectly clear that this man has suffered terrible guilt for most of his life. As he said at the beginning of the trial “I accept moral guilt”. As a post- graduate researcher of Nazi war criminals I have not come across any sign of true remorse from any of them. While Hans Frank Governor General of Poland showed remorse during his trial and called for a Catholic Priest, was this true remorse or a last ditch effort to convince God that he deserved forgiveness? The German judicial system has reached another low point in its history no better than during the Hitlet period when peoples courts sentenced young people to death for saying harsh words against Hitler. I pray that Oscar lives long enough to appeal this unjust conviction.
    .

    • Eleonora Mostert says:

      Very difficult situation. I tend to lean to your side with the evidence that you’ve presented. I consider that this is an unjust conviction. God is watching us.

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