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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Former Auschwitz SS guard aged 93 is fit to stand trial for his crimes, court rules, becoming the only one of 'dirty dozen' charged over Holocash in recent years who will answer for his crimes

Authorities have confirmed that a former S.S. guard charged in September with participating in the mass murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz concentration camp during WW2 is fit to stand trial for his crimes.

Oskar Groening, 93, will go into the dock in the spring of next year, the only one of a 'dirty dozen' former camp personnel identified and charged over participation in the Holocaust in the past two years who will actually answer for his crimes.
The others were told that their cases were being dropped because of age, infirmity or lack of clear evidence.
The court in the northern city of Lueneburg did not identify the accused who will be tried on charges of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people. 
But it is known to be Groening who was employed at the Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland where an estimated 1.2 million people were liquidated between September 1942 and October 1944.
Prosecutors from Hanover are charged with preparing the indictment against Groening, who was in charge of counting, collating and shipping back to the Reich the money and possessions of those murdered in the gas chambers of Hitler's premier extermination camp. 
The charges relate to a two-month period between May and July 1944, when an estimated 137 trains arrived at the camp carrying 425,000 people, mostly from Hungary. At least 300,000 of them were murdered immediately.
'The accused knew that, as part of the selection process, those not chosen for work and told they were going to the showers were really going to the gas chambers where they would be put to death in an agonizing manner,' the court said in a previous statement issued in September.
Some 16 survivors or relatives of survivors have come forward, the court said, and eight have been accepted as witnesses.
Groening was in charge of counting, collating and shipping back to the Reich the money and possessions of those murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz 
News of the case comes a week after a court in Cologne threw out a case against a former SS soldier who prosecutors said was involved at the 1944 massacre of over 600 villagers in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane.
Groening has openly talked about his time as a guard at Auschwitz but claims that while he witnessed atrocities, he didn't commit any himself. He has spoken in the past of witnessing terrible things at the camp.
Oskar Groening, now 93, will go into the dock in the spring of next year to face charges relating to 1944
Oskar Groening, now 93, will go into the dock in the spring of next year to face charges relating to 1944
Once on 'ramp duty' - the place where the doomed Jews were sorted after arrival into those who would live to work and those who would be immediately gassed - he heard a baby crying. 
'I saw another SS soldier grab the baby by the legs...' he said. 'He smashed the baby's head against the iron side of a truck until it was silent.'
He added: 'Every night and every day I remember it for the nightmare it was. It was in 1942 that my SS chiefs in Berlin ordered me there.
'I was an official in the prisoners' possessions administration which basically involved removing the money, jewels and other valuables from the inmates, registering it and sending it back to Berlin.
'They had diamonds and gold worth millions and it was my duty to make sure all of it got to Berlin.
'Down the years I have heard the cries of the dead in my dreams and in every waking moment. I will never be free of them.'
'It was completely understood by all that the majority were going straight to the gas chamber, although some believed they were only going to be showered before going to work. Many Jews knew they were going to die.
'On one night in January 1943 I saw for the first time how the Jews were actually gassed. It was in a half-built farmyard near to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. A gas chamber was built there. We were searching the wood nearby for prisoners who had escaped.

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