Oskar Gröning

Oskar Gröning
Born(1921-06-10)10 June 1921
Nienburg, Province of Hanover, Free State of Prussia, Weimar Republic
Died9 March 2018(2018-03-09) (aged 96)
ResidenceGermany
Other namesOscar Groening (in English)
Known forSS guard at Auschwitz concentration camp, denunciation of Holocaust denial

Oskar Gröning (10 June 1921 – 9 March 2018)[1] was a German SS Unterscharführer who was stationed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. His responsibilities included counting and sorting the money taken from prisoners, and he was in charge of the personal property of arriving prisoners. On a few occasions he witnessed the procedures of mass killing in the camp. After being transferred from Auschwitz to a combat unit in October 1944, Gröning was captured by the British on 10 June 1945 when his unit surrendered. He was eventually transferred to Britain as a prisoner of war and worked as a forced labourer.

Upon his return to Germany he led a normal life, reluctant to talk about his time in Auschwitz. However, more than 40 years later, he decided to make his activities at Auschwitz public after learning about Holocaust denial. He openly criticised those who denied the events that he had witnessed, and the ideology to which he had subscribed. The recorded accounts he provided to the BBC in 2005, however, contributed to the decision and ability to prosecute him. His record as an activist against Holocaust deniers since 1985 was not taken into consideration. Gröning was notable as a German willing to make public statements about his experience as an SS soldier, which were self-incriminating and which exposed his life to public scrutiny.

In September 2014, Gröning was charged by German prosecutors as an accessory to murder, in 300,000 cases, for his role at the Auschwitz concentration camp. His trial began in April 2015, after the court had ruled that, at the age of 93, he was still fit to stand trial. The trial was held in Lüneburg, Germany. On 15 July 2015, he was found guilty of facilitating mass murder and sentenced to four years' imprisonment.[2] Following a number of unsuccessful appeals against the prison sentence, Gröning died on 9 March 2018 while hospitalized before he had begun his sentence.[3]

Early life and education

Gröning was born in June 1921,[4] in Lower Saxony, the son of a skilled textile worker.[5]:139 His mother died when he was four.[6] His father, a nationalist and strict conservative, joined the Stahlhelm after Germany's defeat in the First World War (during which his father had lost an eye),[7] and his father's anger at how Germany had been treated following the Treaty of Versailles increased as his textile business went bankrupt in 1929 due to insufficient capital.[5]:139

Gröning stated that his childhood had been one of "discipline, obedience and authority".[6] Gröning was fascinated by military uniforms, and one of his earliest memories is of looking at photos of his grandfather, who served in an elite regiment of the Duchy of Brunswick, on his horse and playing his trumpet.[5]:139 He told Der Spiegel in 2005, that as a child, he played marbles in the street with Anne Selig, the daughter of a Jewish ironmonger whose store was next to his home.[1] When Nazi storm troopers held up a sign outside the shop saying, "Germans, do not buy from Jews," he said, he was unmoved.[1] He joined the Scharnhorst, the Stahlhelm's youth organisation as a small boy in the 1930s, and later the Hitler Youth when the Nazis came to power in 1933.[5]:139–140 Influenced by his family's values, he felt that Nazism was advantageous to Germany and believed that the Nazis "were the people who wanted the best for Germany and who did something about it."[5]:140 He participated in the burning of books written by Jews and other authors that the Nazis considered degenerate in the belief that he was helping Germany free itself from an alien culture, and considered that National Socialism was having a positive effect on the economy, pointing to lower unemployment.[5]:140

Gröning left school with high marks and began a traineeship as a bank clerk when he was 17, but war was declared shortly after he started employment and eight of the twenty clerks present were immediately conscripted into the army.[5]:140 This allowed the remaining trainees to further their banking careers in a relatively short time; however, despite these opportunities, Gröning and his colleagues were inspired by Germany's quick victories in France and Poland and wanted to contribute.[5]:140

Other Languages
čeština: Oskar Gröning
Ελληνικά: Όσκαρ Γκρένιγκ
español: Oskar Gröning
français: Oskar Gröning
italiano: Oskar Gröning
português: Oskar Gröning
română: Oskar Gröning
Simple English: Oskar Gröning
Türkçe: Oskar Gröning
українська: Оскар Гренінг