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Auschwitz survivor: Trial of ex-Nazi guard is ‘satisfaction’

Plaintiff who lost 49 family members in Holocaust says court proceedings against Oskar Groening more important than punishment

Oskar Groening at the first day of his trial in Luneberg, Germany, to face charges of being an accomplice to the murder of 300,000 at Auschwitz, April 21, 2015 (Photo credit JTA/Andreas Tamme/Getty Images)
Oskar Groening at the first day of his trial in Luneberg, Germany, to face charges of being an accomplice to the murder of 300,000 at Auschwitz, April 21, 2015 (Photo credit JTA/Andreas Tamme/Getty Images)

An Auschwitz survivor who lost 49 family members in the Holocaust says the fact that a 93-year-old former guard at the death camp is on trial is more important than any punishment.

Eva Pusztai-Fahidi, who lost relatives including her parents and sister, told the Lueneburg state court Tuesday that seeing former SS Sgt. Oskar Groening in court is “a kind of satisfaction,” the dpa news agency reported.

The 89-year-old says she could never have imagined she would be testifying before a German court and that “for me it’s not about the punishment.”

Groening is being tried on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and faces a possible three to 15 years if convicted.

Prosecutors argue his role sorting prisoners’ stolen valuables, to which he admits, helped the death camp function.

On Sunday, plaintiffs in the case were angered by another Holocaust survivor who publicly forgave and embraced a 93-year-old former Nazi officer on trial, saying the government should stop his prosecution and that of other such suspects.

Eva Mozes Kor, who had been one of 50 Auschwitz survivors bringing charges against Groening, described as the “accountant of Auschwitz,” said on German television Sunday night that the government should stop prosecuting former SS officers and instead urge them to come forward and publicly share their stories, The Guardian reported.

Kor, 81, said stopping prosecutions would help in the fight against neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers in Germany.

Her co-plaintiffs issued a statement criticizing Kor’s remarks, saying she should not have become a plaintiff if she did not believe in such prosecutions.

Kor, who has published two books about her experiences at Auschwitz, posted a photo on Twitter of her embracing Groening shortly after she testified about how she and her twin sister, Miriam, had been subjects of Joseph Mengele’s experiments there.

She wrote:

“I am sharing with you my face to face meeting with Oskar Groening the former Nazi guard. Two old people reaching out ”

Kor also wrote about the encounter on her Facebook page:

“… As I was talking to him, he grabbed me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Well I probably wouldn’t have gone that far, but I guess it is better than what he would have done to me 70 years ago.

Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor and former SS guard Oskar Groening embrace during the latter's trial on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. (Photo credit: screenshot/Daily Mail)
Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor and former SS guard Oskar Groening embrace during the latter’s trial on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. (photo credit: screenshot/Daily Mail)

“Everything he is accused of — I am saying he did all that. I told him that my forgiveness did not prevent me from accusing him nor from him taking responsibility for his actions. And I told the media that he was a small screw in a big killing machine, and the machine cannot function without the small screws. But obviously he is a human being. His response to me is exactly what I was talking about when I said you cannot predict what will happen when someone from the victims’ side and someone from the perpetrators’ side meet in a spirit of humanity.

“I know many people will criticize me for this photo, but so be it. It was two human beings seventy years after it happened. For the life of me I will never understand why anger is preferable to a goodwill gesture. Nothing good ever comes from anger. Any goodwill gesture in my book will win over anger any time. The energy that anger creates is a violent energy …”

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