‘Bookkeeper’ of Auschwitz on trial in Germany

Oskar Gröning, known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz," worked as an SS guard (not pictured) monitoring the arrival and the sorting of prisoners at the death camp. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Oskar Gröning, known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz," worked as an SS guard (not pictured) monitoring the arrival and the sorting of prisoners at the death camp. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) Oskar Gröning, the 93-year-old former Nazi SS guard who served at the Auschwitz death camp from 1942-1944 and was known as the camp's “bookkeeper,” is facing justice this week in a German court in a trial attended by several Holocaust survivors who were Auschwitz prisoners.

Although he did not personally kill anyone during his time at the concentration camp, Gröning is accused of complicity in the murders of 300,000 Hungarian Jewish prisoners. 

On Wednesday, Gröning described how he was told by his superiors to work the “ramp,” the area where arriving Auschwitz prisoners were split into two groups: those who were put to work and those who were sent to the gas chambers.

“There was a little baby left lying behind on the ramp, after the main group was marched away, and it was crying,” Gröning told the court, the British newspaper The Independent reported. “I turned round and saw one of my comrades pick up the child. He grabbed it by the legs and smashed it again and again against the iron side of a truck until it was silent—when I saw that my world broke down.” 

“[When] I saw what my comrade did with the baby, I told him I thought what he did was wrong, but my comrade replied, ‘What did you want me to do—run after the mother and give her back her baby? You can’t do that. I had to kill the baby,'" said Gröning.

Earlier this week, Gröning asked for forgiveness and admitted that he is “without question morally complicit in the killing of millions of people.” But “whether I am legally guilty is a matter this court must decide,” he said.

Legal experts have said that Gröning is likely the final Auschwitz guard to go on trial.

Posted on April 22, 2015 .