Saturday 20 January 2018

Nazi trials matter, even 70 years on

Oskar Groening
Oskar Groening

The trial of Nazi Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening in Germany is dividing opinion. Some say that prosecuting a 90-year-old for being in the Auschwitz administration is a waste of time and evidence of a lack of forgiveness.

Others say that it sets a vital example that those who stand by while atrocities occur will never be allowed to escape their moral culpability. Either way, the trial is useful.

It is one thing to see documentaries or read books about the Holocaust. It is another to hear a man describe being there while canisters of gas pellets were tipped into the gas chambers as victims screamed for help. That testimony keeps raw something which might otherwise heal. That is certainly worthwhile.

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