jump to navigation

Oskar Groning: The Comfortable Life of the Morally Guilty April 23, 2015

Posted by voolavex in Social Issues.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
trackback

Meet Oskar Groning SSUnterscharführer.  Perhaps the last of the participants in the Final Solution devised by the Nazis to rid the Reich (the 1,000 Year Reich) of Jews, Gays, Infirm, Romany, Disabled and a laundry list complete with designations and badges that were essentially tickets to death.  Just a bookkeeper – he committed no crimes but he was fully trained to do so and he was armed.  And he watched.  As he collected from the walking dead their belongings – money, jewelry, anything of value and recorded it neatly in a ledger so that the Reich would be able to balance its assets as it completed its war to own the planet.

You can read Oskar’s boring early history at Wiki and see that he was bright and destined for better things than being a foot soldier.  He believed in the fight and wanted to join the ranks of the elite who could strut and swagger in their SS uniforms complete with insignias, lightening bolts and boots and britches.  Clean and turned out as a highly placed man in a position of authority and doing meaningful and important work.  What could be more meaningful than being a bookkeeper in a busy death camp, stealing from innocent people about to be gassed and burnt to ashes?  Who needs to shoot prisoners to destroy them?  And how such a mundane assignment relieves the burden of guilt.  His description of his own job, in his own words, makes it sound so routine and clerical one might almost believe that’s all it was.  But it wasn’t and he knew that.  Not for humane or guilty reasons,  He knew what he was doing and why.  He did it because he was a Nazi and a true believer.  And his recounting of the circumstances of his work left me literally sick to my stomach.

I have read all my life –  and since I was very young, as early as JHS, countless of books on the Nazis.  Not an obsession but an attempt over and over to understand why my tribe and 5 million others were so dangerous and lethal to the Nazis they would expend money and energy to make the world free of them.  I should also mention that I read everything on every subject that interested me and this was by no means limited to Nazis but it was of great interest and I simply couldn’t establish any reason for the acts and atrocities that justified or even explained them to e. or made it just a war thing.  The plan was the central leitmotiv for the SS and it did, in many ways, cost Hitler the war.  His loyal foot soldiers starved and froze while Adolf kept the ovens burning and the aktions moving briskly along.

Reading about Nazis is not light reading.  But missing from the entire body of work were the observations of those who worked on their side.  Denials were invented and documents burned to erase this massive murder plot; war trials were held and the convicted hung or locked up for life but there was another them in those events – those poor SS men were only following orders.  Orders they signed up to follow.  And judging from their job enthusiasm; the orders were followed to the letter and with gusto.  But in the main our knowledge comes from the survivors or the liberators.  The survivors who escaped death but not the memories of their devastating ordeal.  The stories are many things – and each story is part of an homage to human spirit and strength and reading them brings grief and redemption because we know such bravery and honor exists among our species.

So meet Oskar Groning who sat on the other side of the desk.  Who willingly did his job and lived to tell about  it.  Too little too late because despite his accurate and honest descriptions of this savagery, he  said it became routine and he stayed at it for at least two years.  When he was sent to the UK as a laborer and subsequently released he went back to a good and comfortable life and thrived to the grand old age of 93.  Should he get a pass for his self-claimed moral guilt and having “to live with his memories”.  Has he “suffered enough?”  I don’t think so. Nor do I believe he suffered at all.  Read his own words and you decide – I am sure there will be reams of quotes and millions of comments but for me, finally hearing it reported from a live  SSUnterscharführer; in the tongue of The Fatherland; an uniformed officer who saw it happening and kept writing down the numbers.  Three hundred thousand souls vs. 70 years of a clean and comfortable life they never had.  Keep this quote in mind before you excuse him.  There is no excuse.

…a baby crying. The child was lying on the ramp, wrapped in rags. A mother had left it behind, perhaps because she knew that women with infants were sent to the gas chambers immediately. I saw another SS soldier grab the baby by the legs. The crying had bothered him. He smashed the baby’s head against the iron side of a truck until it was silent.[4]

After witnessing this, Gröning went to his boss and told him that he was not able to work at Auschwitz any more, stating that if the extermination of the Jews is necessary, “then at least it should be done within a certain framework”.[3]:138 The superior officer denied Gröning’s request.[3]:138  The framework had already been built.

Advertisements

Comments»

No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s