SS – Rottenführer Oskar Grönning (born 1921 ) is a former member of the German SS who worked in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II .
He was born in Lower Saxony . After his mother died when he was 4, he received a strict upbringing from his father, a textile worker. During his childhood, he joined several nationalist youth groups, including the Hitler Youth , when the Nazis came to power in 1933 , convinced that Nazism was advantageous for Germany . After finishing school, Gröning was employed as an apprentice in a bank; But, inspired by victories in France and Poland, he joined the Waffen-SS . His role in the administration fulfilled his aspirations, but in 1942 the SS ordered that office work should be reserved for injured veterans and that members fit for administrative duties should engage in more demanding duties.
This change led to the culmination of Gröning’s SS career: his deployment at Auschwitz . His responsibilities included counting and classifying stolen money for exterminated prisoners and guarding other prisoners’ belongings in the camp before being ransacked. While in the concentration camp, he witnessed the whole killing process. After being transferred to an active unit in 1944 , Gröning was captured by the British on October of June 1945, when his unit surrendered. After being temporarily detained in a former concentration camp, he was transferred to England in 1946 , where he was a forced laborer. He returned to Germany to lead a relatively normal life and chose not to discuss his association with Auschwitz. However, he decided to make it public after learning of Holocaust denial , and has since openly criticized those who deny the facts he witnessed and the ideology he once subscribed to.
Gröning was born in Lower Saxony , from a strict and conservative father who worked in the textile industry. 1 His mother died when he was four years old. 2 His father, a proud nationalist, joined the Stahlhelm after the defeat of Germany in World War I and his rage about how Germany had been treated from the Versailles treaty increased when his textile business broke down in 1929 because of not counting With sufficient capital. 1
Gröning was fascinated by military uniforms and one of his earliest memories is to look at pictures of his grandfather, who served in an elite regiment of the Duchy of Brunswick , on his horse and playing his trumpet. 1
Gröning claims that his childhood was one of “discipline, obedience and authority.” 2 joined Scharnhorst , the youth organization Stahlhelm, being a child in the 1930s , and then to the Hitler Youth when the Nazis came to power in 1933 . 3 Influenced by family values, he felt that Nazism was profitable to Germany and believed that the Nazis “were the people who wanted the best for Germany and they would do something about it .” 4 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 to be liberated of a foreign culture and considered that National Socialism was having a positive effect in the economy, when aiming To a decline in unemployment. 4
Gröning finished school with high grades and began an internship as a trainee bank clerk when he was 17, but the war was declared shortly after started his employment and eight of the twenty employees were immediately conscripted into the army. 4 This situation allowed the remaining apprentices to deepen their banking careers in a relatively short period; However, despite these opportunities, Gröning and his colleagues were inspired by the rapid German victories in France and Poland and wanted to contribute. 4
Race in the SS
Gröning wanted to join an elite unit and set his sights on the Waffen-SS . 5 So that his father did not know, he enrolled in a hotel where the SS was recruiting members. Gröning said his father was disappointed when he found out when he returned home after the inscription. 6 Gröning described himself as an “office person” and was pleased with his role in SS administration, as it involved administrative and military aspects he wanted for his career. 6
Gröning worked as an accountant for a year until 1942 , when the SS ordered that desk jobs were reserved for wounded veterans and eligible members in administrative jobs should play more challenging jobs. 6 Gröning and about 22 of his colleagues traveled to Berlin , where they were presented to one of the offices economic SS . 6 There they received a lecture from several senior officers who reminded them of their oath of allegiance, which they could honor by performing a difficult task. 6 The task was confidential: Gröning and his comrades had to sign a declaration that they would not reveal it to their family, friends or people outside their unit. 6 After this stage, they were separated into smaller groups and taken to various stations in Berlin, where they boarded a train headed for Katowice , with orders to appear before the commander of Auschwitz , a place that Gröning had never heard before. 6
After arriving at the main camp, they were assigned provisional berths in the SS barracks and were greeted warmly by members of the SS who gave them something to eat. 7 Gröning was surprised by the large amount of food available, outside the basic SS rations, and his group was curious to know what kind of place Auschwitz was; 7 however, they were told that they would discover for themselves why Auschwitz was a special type of concentration camp; Immediately afterwards, someone opened the door and shouted, “Transportation!”, Which led to three or four people leaving the room. 7
The following day, Gröning and other newcomers presented themselves to the central administrative building of the SS, where they were asked about their experience before the war. 7 One of the officers told Gröning that his skills as a bank clerk would be helpful and took him to the barracks where money was kept from the prisoners. 7 Gröning claimed that he was told that when the prisoners were registered upon entering the camp, his money was deposited there and returned to them when they left the camp. 7 However, it was clear that Auschwitz was not only a normal internment camp with above-average rations, but also served an additional function. 7 Gröning was informed that the money taken from the Jews, in fact, was not returned to them. 7 When asked more, his colleagues confirmed to him that the Jews were being exterminated and this was related to the transport that had arrived the previous night. Referring to Fig.
The responsibilities of Gröning 9 included the classification and the count of multitude of currencies taken from the deportees and sent to Berlin. He also had to attend the selection process (not to decide who was killed, but to protect the belongings of the new arrivals until they were classified). 10 He said he was surprised to learn of the extermination process, 11 but then accepted his participation in it, saying that his work became “routine” after several months. 10
His bureaucratic work would not completely protect him from physical acts in the extermination process: from the first day on, Gröning saw children being hidden on the train and people unable to walk, who remained among the garbage and debris after the process Would be finished. 12 Gröning also listened:
… a baby crying. The boy was lying on the ramp, wrapped in rags. A mother had left him behind, perhaps because he knew that women with children were being sent to the gas chambers immediately. I saw another SS soldier grab the baby by the legs. Weeping had bothered him. He struck the baby’s head against the iron side of a truck until it was silent. 2
After witnessing this scene, Gröning turned to his boss who said that he was no longer able to work at Auschwitz: he argued that if the extermination of the Jews was necessary, “then at least it must be done within a certain framework.” 12 The superior officer denied Gröning’s request. 12
One night, towards the end of 1942 , Gröning and his comrades in the barracks in the SS camp on the outskirts of Birkenau were awakened by an alarm. 13 They were told that a few Jews who were being taken into the gas chambers had escaped and hid in the forest, so they were ordered to take their guns and look for them. 14 When their group arrived at the camp extermination area, they saw a farm in front of which were found SS men and the bodies of seven or eight prisoners who had been trapped and executed. 14 The SS men told Gröning and his comrades that they could go home, but they decided not to do so, and instead to wander the woods. Then they watched as an SS man put on a gas mask and emptied a can of Zyklon B into a hatch on the wall of the cabin. Gröning stated that the noise from the inside “started with screams” for a few minutes and then silence. 14 Later, a comrade showed that the bodies were being burned in a pit, where a kapo told him the details of incineration, for example, how the bodies seemed to move as they were burned because of the gases contained. 14
The relative calm that Gröning’s work gave him was interrupted again and, once again, he complained to his boss. 15 His superior, one SS- Untersturmführer , heard it , but he remembered the promise that he and his comrades had sworn and returned to work, conscious of the fact that he could manipulate his life in Auschwitz so that he could avoid witnessing aspects Most unpleasant in the concentration camp. 16
Gröning’s request to be transferred to a unit on the battle front was successful, and in 1944 he joined the SS unit fighting in the Ardennes . 17 was wounded and sent to hospital before returning to his unit, the British finally surrendered on October of June of 1945 . 17
As a prisoner of war , he realized that declaring his “participation in the Auschwitz concentration camp would have a negative response”, so he tried not to call attention to that fact. Instead, he put in the form given to him by the Brits who worked for the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt. 17 He did it because “the victor is always right” and because the things that happened at Auschwitz “did not always comply with human rights”. 17
Gröning and the rest of his SS colleagues were imprisoned in a former Nazi concentration camp. 17 Subsequently, in 1946 , he was sent to England as forced labor, where he had a “very comfortable life.” 17 He fed himself with good food, made money and worked in the Midlands and Scotland giving concerts for four months, singing German hymns and English popular music to please the British public. 18
Return to Germany
Gröning was released and returned to Germany in 1947 19 or 1948 . 2 When he met his wife, he said, “Woman, do us a favor, do not ask.” 2 He was unable to recover his job at the bank because he had been a member of the SS, so he got a job at a glass factory, where he rose to an administrative position. 19 He became chief of staff and was appointed honorary judge of the court for industrial cases. twenty
Upon his return to Germany, Gröning lived with his father’s in-laws. 2 At a dinner once made “a silly remark about Auschwitz” which implied that he was a “murderer potential or real”, so Gröning burst into a rage, slammed his fist on the table and said, “This word and This connection should never be mentioned again in my presence; Otherwise, I will move! ” 19 Gröning stated that this request was respected. 19
Gröning led a normal life as a member of the middle class in the postwar period. 2 As a dedicated collector of stamps , once he was on his annual club meeting philately , more than 40 years after the war, when he fell into a conversation about politics with another club member, 21 who said it was “terrible” That Holocaust denialism was illegal in Germany. He came to tell Gröning how impossible it was that so many bodies had been burned and that the volume of gas that was supposed to have been used would have killed all living beings in the vicinity. twenty-one
Gröning did not say anything in response to these comments 21 and only replied: “I know a little more about that, we should discuss it at some point.” 2 The man recommended a pamphlet to Thies Christophersen . 2 Gröning obtained a copy and sent it to Christophersen after writing his own commentary on it, which included these words:
I saw everything, the gas chambers, the cremations, the selection process. One and a half million Jews were killed at Auschwitz. I was there. 2
Since then, Gröning started receiving phone calls and letters from strangers trying to tell him that Auschwitz was not really a place to exterminate humans in gas chambers. twenty-one
It became clear that his comments condemning Holocaust denial had been printed in a magazine neo – Nazi and that most calls and anonymous letters were “of people trying to prove that what I had seen with my own eyes, I had experienced In Auschwitz was a great, great mistake, a great hallucination on my part because it had not happened. ” 21
As a result of these comments, Gröning decided to speak openly about his experiences and publicly denounced the people who maintained that the events he had witnessed never happened. 21 He stated that his message to the Holocaust deniers was:
Believe me, I saw the gas chambers, I saw the crematoria, I saw the stoves. I was on the ramp when the selections took place. I wanted them to believe me, these atrocities happened, I was there. 22
Gröning also wrote about 87 pages of memoirs for his family. 21 2
From the 21 of April of 2015 , Gröning is on trial in the German city of Lueneburg, located in Lower Saxony, accused of being an accomplice of at least 300 000 deaths.
The 15 of July of 2015 , was sentenced in Germany by the Court of Lüneburg, to four years in prison for “complicity” in the murder of 300,000 Jews at Auschwitz.