Author Topic: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?  (Read 511 times)

Offline B.D.F.

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But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« on: March 12, 2018, 04:22:13 pm »
Today Oscar Groening died at 96, before he could begin serving a four- year term for being complicit in the deaths of 300,000 people at Auschwitz.

I have no problem chasing war criminals to the ends of the Earth and the end of time and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law. In fact, I am in favor of it and would give no quarter at all, whatsoever to those guilty of 'crimes against humanity' from any country, in any situation.  That said, I am a little bit familiar with Herr Groening's case and am a bit dubious as to whether he was a war criminal at all. Yes he worked at Auschwitz, and yes, in a really round- about way I guess he assisted the overall machine in the atrocities that happened there but at the same time, he was not even close to directly involved, if he did not do his job (basically accounting), someone else would have and the Nazi behavior would have gone on unabated or even slowed, and in the big picture of things, most people contribute to their country's efforts regardless of the inherit 'goodness' of those efforts.

At any rate, this man's story is interesting and bridges the gap between clearly good and clearly evil IMO.

Part of his story is documented in the excellent series: Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution', available on Netflix.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/03/12/nazi-oskar-groening-auschwitz-death-camp-guard-dies-at-age-96-before-starting-prison-sentence.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+foxnews%2Fworld+%28Internal+-+World+Latest+-+Text%29

Brian
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Offline Conniesaki

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 11:08:10 pm »
...

That said, I am a little bit familiar with Herr Groening's case and am a bit dubious as to whether he was a war criminal at all. Yes he worked at Auschwitz, and yes, in a really round- about way I guess he assisted the overall machine in the atrocities that happened there ...

I you re-read the key part of your sentence, I don't think you're thinking clearly here: ".... he assisted the overall machine in the atrocities ..."

Finance is surely a huge part of running a huge, coordinated effort, whether for good, or evil.

You may be trying to give him a break because you know there were people more directly involved who did a lot worse things.

...  if he did not do his job (basically accounting), someone else would have ...

I don't think that's a good reason to assist something evil. Are you testing us?  ???

Offline mikeyw64

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2018, 01:35:36 am »
couple of key points

1) I remember seeing in a BBC interview with him many years ago that [at the time] he believed that exterminating the Jews was the correct thing to do
2) He also admitted lying about which part of the SS he was in and where he had worked (he had at the point of capture applied for and been transferred away from Auschwitz to the front lines)  when he was captured  as he knew that what was going on at Auschwitz was wrong and that he would probably get rough justice.


Ok that aside he was primarily convicted (effectively) on his own testimony and at least he eventually spoke openly about what had occured and unlike many he never fell back on the "I was only following orders" line.

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Offline B.D.F.

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 10:17:20 am »
Yes, finance is a large part of support. But every one of the victims of the Holocaust was brought to his / her final location by train, and those running, tending and maintaining the trains absolutely had to know that cattle- cars full of people were going in one direction, and coming back the other way empty..... so are they all guilty also? How about the drafted Wehrmacht soldier who was posted as a guard around a ghetto in, say, Warsaw? Should he have refused to stand his post? How about the people packing the food which is sent to Auschwitz to feed those committing the atrocities? This is my thinking- where does the complicity end, or does it ever end? Which brings us to the ultimately and truly final question: should all the people on the 'bad' side just stop doing anything at all, thereby effectively ending any war or conflict at any time? And now for the hard question: who decides which is the 'wrong' side?

The victor writes the history. Before he was executed for war crimes, Prime Minister Tojo said of General MacArthur: if we had won the war, he would be here, awaiting his execution for war crimes. And I believe that is true.

But that is why I posted this thread as a question in the first place; I do not know or claim to know the answer to this question. But the case of Oskar Gröning is as close to the line of deserves punishment / should not be punished as anyone or any case I have ever heard of. He did behave less than spectacularly but would you or I do any better in the identical situation? And he went a long way to redeem himself toward the end of his life by actively speaking out against Holocaust deniers adamantly and very actively but was that enough to bring him back to 'even' or not? Is what he did bad enough to be un-redeemable, ever? We need a long- dead, smart, ancient Greek philosopher to have any shot to answering these questions, at least IMO.

And no, I am not testing anyone other than perhaps myself. I merely posted this because it is questions like these I find so very difficult to answer, and I am not at all sure Herr Groning should have been sentenced to prison. I am equally unsure that he should have been allowed to go free. To me, there is no clear answer, even after a lot of reflection; I like to think (hope?) that other, more able people, such as our own Supreme Court can find the 'correct' answer but what if there IS NO 'correct' answer?

Brian

I you re-read the key part of your sentence, I don't think you're thinking clearly here: ".... he assisted the overall machine in the atrocities ..."

Finance is surely a huge part of running a huge, coordinated effort, whether for good, or evil.

You may be trying to give him a break because you know there were people more directly involved who did a lot worse things.

I don't think that's a good reason to assist something evil. Are you testing us?  ???
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Offline B.D.F.

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 10:32:39 am »
I watched that BBC series and that is what made me aware of him, so I went off and did a little study about the man. He did all that you say but again, he was not directly involved nor was he involved in any decisions that let to the creation or continuing existence of Auschwitz. He then spend many decades refusing to talk about his wartime service at all. But later in life, he heard someone deny that the Holocaust ever actually happened and he felt the need to speak out about it, and he did so loudly and often, going around to schools talking about Auschwitz and readily admitting his part and his observances, and it seems to me that he did this in trying to 'do the right thing' rather than absolve himself of any responsibility he had in the Holocaust.

And yes, he was initially charged as well as <probably> convicted, at least to a great degree, from his own interviews with the BBC in the making of that series. Again, that happened during the later part of his life when he was actively speaking out about the Holocaust in what appeared to me to be a very honest effort to counter the Holocaust- deniers.

I am not in any way opposed chasing down war criminals and prosecuting them to the limit of the law. In fact, I am in favor of it and do not accept age as an excuse; I would be more than willing to put the noose around Rudolph Hoss's neck myself and pull the lever to drop the gallows floor if he were still alive (already hanged in '48 I think). As well as a host of other war criminals, German or not, from WWII or not. I just think that in this very specific case, prison time may not have been warranted and I am unsure what real justice would be for Oskar Gröning, especially since the man did spend so much time and effort later in his life making sure as many people as possible heard first- hand what did happen because he was offended by the Holocaust deniers.

Brian

couple of key points

1) I remember seeing in a BBC interview with him many years ago that [at the time] he believed that exterminating the Jews was the correct thing to do
2) He also admitted lying about which part of the SS he was in and where he had worked (he had at the point of capture applied for and been transferred away from Auschwitz to the front lines)  when he was captured  as he knew that what was going on at Auschwitz was wrong and that he would probably get rough justice.


Ok that aside he was primarily convicted (effectively) on his own testimony and at least he eventually spoke openly about what had occured and unlike many he never fell back on the "I was only following orders" line.
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Offline mikeyw64

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 10:53:42 am »
I think this quote is probably his most pragmatic:



"I ask for forgiveness. I share morally in the guilt but whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide.''
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32392594



I watched that BBC series and that is what made me aware of him, so I went off and did a little study about the man. He did all that you say but again, he was not directly involved nor was he involved in any decisions that let to the creation or continuing existence of Auschwitz. He then spend many decades refusing to talk about his wartime service at all. But later in life, he heard someone deny that the Holocaust ever actually happened and he felt the need to speak out about it, and he did so loudly and often, going around to schools talking about Auschwitz and readily admitting his part and his observances, and it seems to me that he did this in trying to 'do the right thing' rather than absolve himself of any responsibility he had in the Holocaust.

And yes, he was initially charged as well as <probably> convicted, at least to a great degree, from his own interviews with the BBC in the making of that series. Again, that happened during the later part of his life when he was actively speaking out about the Holocaust in what appeared to me to be a very honest effort to counter the Holocaust- deniers.

I am not in any way opposed chasing down war criminals and prosecuting them to the limit of the law. In fact, I am in favor of it and do not accept age as an excuse; I would be more than willing to put the noose around Rudolph Hoss's neck myself and pull the lever to drop the gallows floor if he were still alive (already hanged in '48 I think). As well as a host of other war criminals, German or not, from WWII or not. I just think that in this very specific case, prison time may not have been warranted and I am unsure what real justice would be for Oskar Gröning, especially since the man did spend so much time and effort later in his life making sure as many people as possible heard first- hand what did happen because he was offended by the Holocaust deniers.

Brian
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Offline Rhino

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 01:04:01 pm »
Does "The Simpsons" make up for his crimes? Wait, different Groening... never mind.

Offline B.D.F.

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 06:17:49 pm »
Yes, and for me, that is part of the entire judgement problem; this was an intelligent, articulate and educated man who came to at least some of his behavioral decisions after reason and thought. He was not a rabid being spewing some party line or anyone else's hatred. He made a conscious, careful decision to come forward and invest considerable effort and authority, at his own peril, to correct any notions of the Holocaust deniers and for me, that buys the man some degree of redemption.

It is easy to dump on "Germans" and leave it at that but really, how many Brits. or how many Americans would toe the party line given similar circumstances? I do not claim to know but I do believe it would be far more that would actually do it than would admit to it beforehand.

In that same show there was a part where British police seemed to easily go along with their Nazi bosses on the Channel Islands and deport at least one Jew. I certainly do not see the British as 'bad' or 'evil' people, in fact, I personally view Brits. as perhaps the best of the people who had major colonies around the world and believe they treated their 'subjects' better than some or most other colonial nations. But at least some British police personnel bowed down to the powers that be and conformed. I am sure the same thing would happen in parts of the US had the Nazis occupied any populated territory of the US. I am certainly NOT throwing rocks at any Brits, merely pointing out that people are capable of doing more damage than they might care to admit under the cover of 'following orders' and giving up responsibility for a situation.

And let's all remember that the German hero Oskar Schindler was more than happy to use slave labor to line his own pockets for quite a while and only later came to a different school of thought. But today, he is 100% hero and we tend to forget about his earlier, clearly criminal behavior.

Brian

I think this quote is probably his most pragmatic:



"I ask for forgiveness. I share morally in the guilt but whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide.''
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32392594
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Offline mikeyw64

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2018, 10:49:06 pm »
Point of order Mr Speaker:


The CHannel Islands are not British. they are Crown Dependencies which are outside of the UK (although the UK is responsible for their defence & International Relations as they are not part of the EY/UN etc)


Also historically a lot of the Channel Islanders DNA comes from the French ;)


I watched that BBC series and that is what made me aware of him, so I went off and did a little study about the man. He did all that you say but again, he was not directly involved nor was he involved in any decisions that let to the creation or continuing existence of Auschwitz. He then spend many decades refusing to talk about his wartime service at all. But later in life, he heard someone deny that the Holocaust ever actually happened and he felt the need to speak out about it, and he did so loudly and often, going around to schools talking about Auschwitz and readily admitting his part and his observances, and it seems to me that he did this in trying to 'do the right thing' rather than absolve himself of any responsibility he had in the Holocaust.

And yes, he was initially charged as well as <probably> convicted, at least to a great degree, from his own interviews with the BBC in the making of that series. Again, that happened during the later part of his life when he was actively speaking out about the Holocaust in what appeared to me to be a very honest effort to counter the Holocaust- deniers.

I am not in any way opposed chasing down war criminals and prosecuting them to the limit of the law. In fact, I am in favor of it and do not accept age as an excuse; I would be more than willing to put the noose around Rudolph Hoss's neck myself and pull the lever to drop the gallows floor if he were still alive (already hanged in '48 I think). As well as a host of other war criminals, German or not, from WWII or not. I just think that in this very specific case, prison time may not have been warranted and I am unsure what real justice would be for Oskar Gröning, especially since the man did spend so much time and effort later in his life making sure as many people as possible heard first- hand what did happen because he was offended by the Holocaust deniers.

Brian
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Offline VirginiaJim

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 02:13:27 pm »
All Nazi's should be put up against a wall and shot with rusty bullets.  I don't care how old they are or what country they live in now or if they've done 'good' since WW2.
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Offline gPink

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Re: But was he really a Nazi war criminal?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 03:25:36 pm »
...especially Illinois Nazi's.
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