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The Accountant of Auschwitz 2018
5.7 of 18

The Accountant of Auschwitz

SD 7.30 80 min
The Nazi war crimes trial in Germany of ninety-three year old Oskar Gröning, dubbed the Accountant of Auschwitz for his role of collecting the valuables of the Jewish camp prisoners as they were brought in, is documented, the trial close to seventy decades after the war. Beyond the issues surrounding this trial compared to other Nazi war crime trials, including the mixed emotions of the potential eyewitnesses in testifying or not, the history of the prosecution of Nazi war criminals is presented. Of the eight-hundred thousand Germans who were known to be part of the S.S. by the end of the war, only over one hundred were ever prosecuted to life sentences behind bars for those crimes, largely due to the non-appetite of the German people during the post-war period to revisit the atrocities of that war, as well as most of the German judges to the late 1960s, who were the architects of the legal system of how to prosecute such crimes, being Nazis themselves. The situation changed with the several decades long legal proceedings against John Demjanjuk for his war crimes, he who emigrated to the US shortly after the war. At the beginning of the legal proceedings in the US, he was now known to be mistakenly identified as Ivan the Terrible, a high level guard at Auschwitz. After his acquittal in the Ivan the Terrible case in the US, and the US government's failed attempt to deport him back to Germany for falsehoods stated in his immigration documents (Germany who did not want him if he was just going to be a free man), it was learned that he was indeed a guard at Sobibor, where extermination of Jewish people did occur. The prosecution team in Germany used the argument that if one worked at any one of the extermination camps in any role of detaining prisoners knowing that murder was occurring, they were complicit of murder. Although convicted Demjanjuk would never serve any time and died during one of his appeals of that conviction, his case has set precedent of the validity of this argument in a court of German law, even for someone like Gröning who held a relatively low level position at Auschwitz. Regardless, the specifics of the Gröning case has its own twists and turns.

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