Germany: Former concentration camp prisoner outrages co-accusers by shaking the hand of indicted former SS member
During the trial of Oskar Gröning, a former volunteer with the SS who worked at the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, Eva Kor, a former prisoner, shook the indicted man's hand in a gesture of reconciliation. Yesterday the 49 other Holocaust victims who are Kor's co-accusers in the lawsuit against Gröning expressed their objections to her gesture.
The trial of the 93-year-old Gröning, who is accused of involvement in the death of 300 000 Jews, began last week in Lüneburg. In his opening remarks, the defendant acknowledged his moral responsibility and said the court must now decide whether he is criminally guilty.
Kor, who is now 81, was experimented on medically by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele at the camp and has now travelled from the United States to follow the trial from the beginning. The ARD television channel showed footage of the handshake when she was a guest on their evening talk show on Sunday.
Her co-accusers, however, do not understand why she has taken such an approach. "We cannot forgive Mr Gröning for his participation in the murder of our relatives and another 299 000 people, especially when he still feels no criminal guilt," the plaintiffs communicated through their legal representatives, Cornelius Nestler and Thomas Walther.
Nestler and Walther, on behalf of their 49 clients, all survivors of Auschwitz, have accused Kor of arbitrarily rehabilitating Gröning. "To be a co-accuser in this case in the name of those who were murdered, and then to exploit that role to publicly stage her personal forgiveness of him - those two things don't go together," the lawyers said.
German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung reports that Kor's appearance on television on Sunday outraged her co-accusers. She confirmed on the show that she forgives Gröning.
"This criminal proceedings is primarily about documenting decades of the ongoing failure of the justice system," Nestler and Walther emphasized. Should Gröning be found guilty, he faces at least three years in prison.
The proceedings is considered one of the last great trials of agents from the Nazi era and is scheduled to last until 29 July. Gröning was a volunteer with the SS and worked at Auschwitz until 1944.
The state prosecutor says Gröning did not directly participate in the violence at Auschwitz, but did search the luggage confiscated from the prisoners as they arrived and took their money. He then sent the confiscated assets to Berlin.
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