2015年4月25日星期六

Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor forgives SS Guard Oskar Groening during his trial 

  • Eva Kor described how she and her twin sister were experimented on
  • She suffered at the hands of Dr Josef Mengele at the Nazi death camp  
  • 'Mengele stood by my bed and was laughing sarcastically' - Eva Kor 
  • Kor says that to this day she still doesn't know what she was injected with 

Despite everything that she'd been through and witnessed, a survivor of Auschwitz embraced a former SS guard deployed to the camp who's on trial on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.

Eva Kor, 81, was one of the Jews who arrived at Auschwitz in 1944. She was then subjected to horrific experiments by Dr. Josef Mengele.

But in a courtroom in Lueneburg she and Oskar Groening, 93 – known as the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' - hugged each other after he kissed her on the cheek.

'It was not planned,' she said, according to The Times. 'This is what you see when you see two human beings interact.'

She added: 'Former enemies can get along as human beings. What on earth do we want to tell the world? Killing each other has never created anything good.'

The Holocaust survivor later tweeted: 'I met Oskar Groening, introduced myself reached to shake his hand-he grabbed my arm & fainted-I screamed 4 help. It was a strange reaction!!' 

Redemption: Holocaust survivor Eva Kor takes the hand of Oskar Groening as he stands in the dock accused of complicity to murder 300,000 people

Redemption: Holocaust survivor Eva Kor takes the hand of Oskar Groening as he stands in the dock accused of complicity to murder 300,000 people

Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor has spoken of how infamous Josef Mengele stood over her bed and laughed after she was injected with a 'deadly germ'

Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor has spoken of how infamous Josef Mengele stood over her bed and laughed after she was injected with a 'deadly germ'

Groening (pictured) described in chilling detail Wednesday how cattle cars full of Jews were brought to the Auschwitz death camp, the people stripped of their belongings and then most led directly into gas chambers

Groening (pictured) described in chilling detail Wednesday how cattle cars full of Jews were brought to the Auschwitz death camp, the people stripped of their belongings and then most led directly into gas chambers

 Groening, who worked for an insurance company after the war, has testified as a witness in other Nazi trials

 Groening, who worked for an insurance company after the war, has testified as a witness in other Nazi trials

Ms Kor had travelled from Indiana to testify about her treatment at the notorious camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

During her powerful testimony, she spoke of how the infamous Josef Mengele, dubbed the Butcher of Auschwitz, stood over her bed and laughed after she was injected with a 'deadly germ'.

Ms Kor and her twin sister were medically experimented on by Mengele because they were twins, though being so did not necessarily mean escaping death. 

'It didn't mean that a person was assured life - it meant that you were not immediately taken to the gas chamber,' Ms Kor told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

She continued: 'I myself was injected with a deadly germ. Mengele stood by my bed and was laughing sarcastically, and he looked at my fever chart, that I only had two weeks to live.

'And for the following two weeks I have only one single memory. I remember crawling on the barrack floor to reach a faucet with water at the other end of the barrack because this barrack was not even allocated water and as I was crawling and fading in and out of conscious (sic) I kept telling myself 'I must survive', and I did.'

Ms Kor said that 70 years after her liberation from the Nazi death camp, she still does not know what she was injected with, and appealed for anyone with information on what had happened to the files kept on the experiments to get in touch with her. 

Recovery: Miriam and Eva Kor as shown in a 1949 photo. Eva Kor and her twin sister Miriam were among the 1,500 twins (amounting to 3,000 children) Dr. Josef Mengele experimented on in Auschwitz

Recovery: Miriam and Eva Kor as shown in a 1949 photo. Eva Kor and her twin sister Miriam were among the 1,500 twins (amounting to 3,000 children) Dr. Josef Mengele experimented on in Auschwitz

SS Sergeant Oskar Groening - known as 'the bookkeeper of Auschwitz' - is on trial charged with complicity in the killing of 300,000 Jews at the Nazi extermination camp

Oskar Groening as an SS officer

SS Sergeant Oskar Groening is on trial charged with complicity in the killing of 300,000 Jews at the Nazi extermination camp

Groening was known as the 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' because it was his responsibility to collate and ship the valuables of the doomed back to the SS in Berlin 

Groening was known as the 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' because it was his responsibility to collate and ship the valuables of the doomed back to the SS in Berlin 

Josef Mengele (1911-1979), the notorious Nazi German physician, in an image taken from from Nazi Hunter: The Wiesenthal File, by Alan Levy

Josef Mengele (1911-1979), the notorious Nazi German physician, in an image taken from from Nazi Hunter: The Wiesenthal File, by Alan Levy

She believes that by surviving she 'spoiled' Mengele's experiment as he was not able to carry out a comparative autopsy with her twin Miriam, who died in the 1990s.

Ms Kor was speaking after giving evidence at the trial in Germany of the 93-year-old former Nazi SS guard.

Groening is accused of serving at Auschwitz between May and June 1944, when some 425,000 Jews from Hungary were taken there and almost immediately gassed to death.

On the day she arrived in court, Ms Kor hugged Groening and thanked him for 'having some human decency in accepting responsibility' for what he had done.

She added that she had forgiven the Nazis for what they had done to her, not because they deserved it, but because she deserved to be free of the burden.

On Thursday Groening heard such powerful testimony from a survivor of the death camp that he asked for a break as he was too shocked and exhausted to cope with hearing any more evidence.

He was forced to listen impassively to the testimony of Max Eisen, who described how he had to remove gold from the teeth of Jews who'd died in the gas chambers.

Eisen, 85, a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz shipped to the camp with his family from Czechoslovakia when he was on duty there, gave a powerful account of a three-day railway journey in which everyone in the cattle wagon was forced to stand.

He spoke of arriving at the camp in 'chaos' at midnight, with the place illuminated by searchlights and the shouting of the guards ringing in the air.

Mr Eisen, then 15, his father and uncle were assigned to slave labour. The rest of his family was sent to the gas chamber - mother, sisters, cousins - while S.S. men lied that they would 'soon be together again.'

He said he and his uncle and father 'wasted away' on a scant diet, doing back-breaking agricultural work for 10 or 12 hours a day. In time, Eisen's father and uncle were 'selected out' - the jargon to be led to the gas chamber to die - and he had just seconds to say goodbye.

Survivors from Auschwitz (pictured), who are plaintiffs in the case, travelled from the United States, Canada, Hungary and elsewhere to attend Groening's trial

Survivors from Auschwitz (pictured), who are plaintiffs in the case, travelled from the United States, Canada, Hungary and elsewhere to attend Groening's trial

Between May 16 and July 11, 1944, Groening was on duty when 450,000 Hungarian Jews were transported there, with 300,000 being gassed just after arrival. Pictured, Auschwitz survivors

Between May 16 and July 11, 1944, Groening was on duty when 450,000 Hungarian Jews were transported there, with 300,000 being gassed just after arrival. Pictured, Auschwitz survivors

'He told me, 'If you manage to survive, you need to tell the world what happened here.' And that's it, I was an orphan,' he said.

'I was in total shock,' he says. 'The first guy I saw get killed was a guy from my town. In the shower his glasses fell down. And this SS person was so livid that he came and gave him a kick in his head — and he flipped over — and then he stomped him to death. I remember hearing his ribs cracking.'

He also told of how he was tasked with cleaning the sickbay where patients were given just two days to recover.

If they couldn't walk after that they were taken to the gas chambers, he said.

He added, The Times reported: 'Some hours after this, SS soldiers would come back with a bloody rag that was full of gold molars. I had to remove the gold crowns.'

At this point Hans Holtermann, Groening's lawyer, asked the court to adjourn for the day, the paper reported, as his client was so shocked by Mr Eisen's testimony that he didn't have the energy to listen to anymore evidence.

There were more killings, beatings, shootings, selections, starvation, barking dogs and blinding lights, where men like Groening, argue prosecutors, were essential in keeping the conveyor belt of death moving.

Mr Eisen, who now lives in Canada, said before the trial began that he thought it would be appropriate for Groening to be given community service for the rest of his life.

Earlier in the trial the court witnessed the extraordinary moment when Ms Kor embraced Groening.

She and Groening hugged each other after he kissed her on the cheek.

'It was not planned,' she said, according to The Times. 'This is what you see when you see two human beings interact.'

'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' in court accused of accessory to murder

Groening told the court on Tuesday that he is 'morally guilty' but not directly responsible for any deaths

Groening told the court on Tuesday that he is 'morally guilty' but not directly responsible for any deaths

She added: 'Former enemies can get along as human beings. What on earth do we want to tell the world? Killing each other has never created anything good.'

Although pale and frail, Groening has struck a commanding figure in court who speaks clearly of his 'moral guilt' while denying that he is 'legally guilty' because he claims not to have harmed a single camp inmate.

Facing in him court are five dozen Auschwitz survivors or relatives of the dead, the co-plaintiffs in the case alongside the German government.

The trial has only been running for three days and has already shone a unique spotlight on the most terrible place on earth as described by someone who worked there at a time when 5,000 Jews a day were being liquidated.

'I don't know anyone, at that time, who didn't think like me - that Jews were the enemy of Germany,' he said. 'That was simply the atmosphere of the time.'

Eleven lawyers representing the survivors and loved ones of those 'disposed of' - his words - there questioned him on Thursday about his service on the notorious 'ramp' in the Birkenau section of the killing complex, where the arrivals from all Nazi occupied lands arrived aboard cattle wagon trains.

 'I don't know anyone, at that time, who didn't think like me - that Jews were the enemy of Germany

Groening said that at the time of the Hungarian transports he had been promoted to junior NCO level and was only present on the ramp - the place where those who were to be killed immediately were separated from those chosen to be slave labourers - three times during that period.

Known as the 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' because it was his responsibility to collate and ship the valuables of the doomed back to the SS in Berlin, Groening is also accused of 'supporting the systematic killing of the Jews while providing the Nazi regime with economic advantage' by robbing those about to die.

'I was only a poor little corporal,' the former Waffen SS volunteer said when explaining why he could not provide details about the camp's operations. 'The capacity of the gas chambers or crematoriums was quite limited.'

No formal guilty or not guilty pleas are taken in German criminal trials with proceedings taking the form of question and answer sessions or statements.

Juandge Franz Kompisch pushed Groening on just how seriously he applied for transfers from the camp, and Groening said he did want to leave and fight at the front - even though his elder brother had been killed in battle.

The trial continues on Tuesday. 

 



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