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94-year-old former SS Auschwitz guard apologizes for the Nazi Holocaust

Hanning could face a 15 years in prison if he gets convicted but given age it is very unlikely that he will ever spend time behind bars.

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Reinhold Hanning, a 94-year-old former guard at Auschwitz, arrives in the courtroom before his trial in Detmold, Germany. Image Source: Time.com
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DETMOLD: A former SS sergeant aged 94 years admitted that he had also worked as an Auschwitz death camp guard. He apologized to the Nazi Holocaust survivors in German court that “I’m ashamed that I knowingly let injustice happen and did nothing to oppose it.”

“I want to say that it disturbs me deeply that I was part of such a criminal organization,” he said while sitting wheelchair and talking with a weak voice. “I am ashamed that I saw injustice and never did anything about it and I apologize for my actions. I am very, very sorry.”

Leon , survivor of Nazi Holocaust arrives at the courtroom. Image Source: thesun.co.uk
Leon , survivor of Nazi Holocaust arrives at the courtroom. Image Source: thesun.co.uk

Leon Schwazbaum was one of the 40 Nazi Holocaust Survivors who have come together as co-plaintiff and said he was happy Hanning apologized but that it wasn’t enough.

The Former SS sergeant is charged with being accessory to the murder of at least 170,000.

Hanning told the Detmold state court that he has never in his life  spoken about his wartime service in Auschwitz .He haven’t even discussed this with his family, but wanted to use this trial to set the record straight.

Also watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyVi2Wsql3s

“I have remained silent for a long time, I have remained silent all of my life. I’ve tried to repress this period for my whole life. Auschwitz was a nightmare, I wish I had never been there,” he added.

Nazi soldier killing jews ,a scene from the movie schindler's list . Image courtesy : youtube.com
Nazi soldier killing jews ,a scene from the movie schindler’s list . Image courtesy : youtube.com

To this the 95 year old said “I lost 35 family members, how can you apologize for that? I am not angry, I don’t want him to go to prison but he should say more for the sake of the young generation today because the historical truth is important.”

He also said “I accept his apology but I can’t forgive him.” Prosecutor Andreas Brendel said there was good evidence already that Hanning served in the Nazi camp, but that his admission could help win a conviction.

“Today’s statement contributed a little more to establish that he was there, because he admitted that, and more importantly to the fact that he knew about the killings in the main camp _ that also is a crucial fact,” Brendel told The Associated Press.

Hanning could face a 15 years in prison if he gets convicted but given age it is very unlikely that he will ever spend time behind bars.

This case is said to be the Germany’s last trail which linked with the holocaust killing in which more than 6 million , mostly jews were killed by Nazis. A verdict is expected on May 27.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication and a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter handle: bhaskar_ragha

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  • Mr Data

    He is not personally responsible for the killings, which is what the original Nuremburg trials were for – finding those responsible. The crime he is being charged with is not fighting against those responsible. Considering that those who did were shot on the spot as traitors, what choice did he have but do nothing and hope to stay alive?

  • Mr Data

    He is not personally responsible for the killings, which is what the original Nuremburg trials were for – finding those responsible. The crime he is being charged with is not fighting against those responsible. Considering that those who did were shot on the spot as traitors, what choice did he have but do nothing and hope to stay alive?

Next Story

Solving a murder in a Nazi bastion, escaping the Stasi

But as there are a couple of Nazis who are not so bad, our hero also shows that anyone with some dignity and honour can keep his mooring amid the direst evil

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Prussian Blue is a must read book which offers different perspective. IANS
Prussian Blue is a must read book which offers different perspective. IANS
  • Prussian Blue is a novel by Philip Kerr
  • It is set in World War II
  • Thr book is an interesting read

Title: Prussian Blue (Bernie Gunther Series); Author: Philip Kerr; Publisher: Quercus

Some men can never outrun their past. It is not that their wrongdoings cannot be forgotten, but rather that their unique abilities which even their enemies, spanning the spectrum from Nazism to Communism, recognise and seek to utilise for their own ends. As with this outspoken, irreverent but capable German ex-policeman.

Bernie Gunther has survived over over two decades of Nazi rule, World War II’s Russian front, Soviet captivity, the Cold War’s lethal attentions — from all its sides — service to Juan Peron and the American mafia in Battista’s Cuba, and now just wants a quiet life.

Not Nazi were bad. youtube.com

But his eccentric fate hasn’t yet finished with him, even in 1956. And in his latest appearance, Gunther learns — yet again — that the pathology of power remains the same, though the name, uniforms and even ideology may change, and today’s oppressed can easily become — and inevitably do — tomorrow’s oppressors.

Fleeing Berlin after a complex intelligence operation where he got even with those kicking him around — with the help of a dangerous figure from his pre-war past — Gunther tries to live obscurely as concierge in a small hotel on the French Riviera. But soon, his unlikely helper — Erich Mielke, the dreaded second-in-command of East Germany’s Stasi — personally appears and threatens him to undertake a mission.

This entails going over to Britain and poisoning — by thallium no less — a covert woman agent, whom Gunther had deftly outsmarted in his previous outing (“The Other Side of Silence”, 2016). And just to keep him on his toes, Mielke has his men arrange a near-fatal hanging for him.

But our hero is not one to give in tamely. While he goes along with Mielke’s assignment knowing the men wished upon him to “help” will eventually be his executioners, he escapes from the train taking them towards the English Channel. The Stasi men are soon on his trail and since their leader is someone who knows Gunther too well — a former pre-war Berlin police colleague who was his aide in investigating a crime in Adolf Hitler’s hilltop Bavarian retreat in 1939 — keeping ahead will not be too simple.

As Gunther flees across France with the French police too on his trail, his mind travels back to April 1939 when another dreaded boss sent him to solve a serious crime in Hitler’s holiday home, just before the Fuhrer visited it for his 50th birthday.

A top engineer overseeing construction and renovations has been shot dead right on the terrace of special tea house planned as a surprise for Hitler and now his close aide Martin Bormann wants the matter to be solved expeditiously without any fuss, so there is no threat to the Fuhrer’s life.

But as Gunther finds out, there is no shortage of suspects given the greed, graft, jealousy, turf fights and more going on between Nazi bigwigs in this Nazi citadel and a mass of resentful local residents, dispossessed of home or property for the Hitler retreat.

Given the high stakes involved, will he be allowed to investigate the case to its logical conclusion and identify the truly guilty or will any scapegoat do?

Flipping between the hazardous 1939 investigation and the nervous 1956 flight, Philip Kerr, in the 12th installment of his most captivating series, brings our wise-cracking, sardonic but resourceful hero back to life in all his tarnished, tired but still irrepressible form.

Also Read: Book Review: ‘Blitzed – Drugs in Nazi Germany’- Straight dope about the Fuehrer and the Nazi war machine

While it is a thriller twice over, the real worth is the uncompromising light it shows totalitarianism in — especially Nazism, which despite its much touted high ideals, could not advance from the ambition, greed and conceit of its principal leaders. Stalinist Communism, with its readiness to employ former Nazis and be as violent, doesn’t come far behind.

Kerr also scores in his vivid but unflattering portraits of top Nazis — from the boorish Bormann to the devious Heydrich and their system of violent loot or just violence. Apart from the insight into workings of Nazism, there is an unforgettable insight into normalisation of terror and casual brutality to gain and keep personal power.

But as there are a couple of Nazis who are not so bad, our hero also shows that anyone with some dignity and honour can keep his mooring amid the direst evil. That is why Bernie Gunther’s exploits are a must read. IANS