Holocaust survivors speak before Nazi trial

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Holocaust survivors speak before Nazi trial
Two Holocaust survivors at the press conference in Lüneberg. Photo: DPA.

Holocaust survivors spoke at a press conference on Monday before the beginning of the trial of Oskar Gröning, a 93-year-old man who worked at Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War.


“Sins must be judged and what was done in Auschwitz-Birkenau was a sin. It must be judged. It was a crime that will stay for eternity,” said Eva Pusztai Fahidi, one of over 50 Auschwitz survivors who are co-plaintiffs or witnesses at the trial.

“God himself in comparison with an SS man is nothing. What do I expect from him? I expect that he understand what it means that he was there. Even if he had done nothing, but had only stood there by the ramp as my family arrived.

"I have 49 names that I can count. 49 names from my family who marched past as he stood there beside that ramp."

Gröning is called “the accountant of Auschwitz” by the German media due to his role collecting money and other valuables from people who were imprisoned in the concentration camp. Later in the war he took on other duties, one of which was to stand as an auxiliary guard at the ramp where prisoners arrived.

“What do I expect? Can he give my family members their lives back? What can he say to me? What can I hear from him? I'm interested to hear what he'll say to me. Will he tell me that he did nothing? That he just stood there?”

The trail, which starts on Tuesday in the northern town of Lüneberg, is the first in Germany to test a new legal precedent set in 2011 through the trial of John Demjanjuk who was a death camp guard at Sobibor.

Prosecutors argued in Demajanjuk's case that he was culpable of a crime because of the fact that he had worked at the camp rather than due to evidence of his involvement in a specific death.

Gröning has spoken in the past of his time at Auschwitz. In an interview with the BBC ten years ago, he recalled seeing guards knocking a child unconscious to keep him quiet.

He said that he spoke about his experiences in order to work against Holocaust denial.

Correction: This article has been updated with the correct spelling of Oskar Gröning's name.


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