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New World’s Indoor Record for Ignorance

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COMMENT: If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for sheer political and historical ignorance, the Polish foreign minister just might lay claim to that dubious prize.

The Red Army units that liberated Auschwitz were part of the Soviet force amalgamated under the command rubric “Ukrainian Front.” Seizing on that, the Polish foreign minister claimed that “Ukrainian” soldiers liberated Auschwitz.

We don’t know what he has been drinking or smoking, but it must be really strong stuff!

Good grief, Charlie Brown!

Programs covering the Ukraine crisis are: FTR #’s 777778779780781782, 783784794800803804, 808811817818824826829832833, 837.

“West Rains on Putin’s WWII Parade as Ukraine Crisis Takes Toll” by Anna Smolchenko and Olga Rotenberg [Agence France-Presse]; Yahoo News; 3/19/2015.

. . . . Presiding over preparations for the Russia-wide festivities this week, Putin said attempts to belittle Russia’s role in WWII were aimed at stripping it of its “moral authority.”

“Occasionally we hear sheer lunacy — it’s amazing how people even come to that.”

Poland angered Moscow when its foreign minister said it was Ukrainian soldiers — rather than the Soviet Red Army — who liberated Auschwitz in 1945. . . .


One comment for “New World’s Indoor Record for Ignorance”

  1. Ex-Nazi Admits Guilt but Offers No Apology in Trial in Germany


    Oskar Gröning, 94, acknowledged his complicity in the Holocaust for his work at the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he collected money from arriving prisoners.

    LÜNEBURG, Germany — Stating that he could “only ask forgiveness from the Lord,” a 94-year-old former SS soldier who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp acknowledged again on Wednesday his complicity in the Holocaust but disappointed survivors by failing to apologize for his deeds.

    The former soldier, Oskar Gröning, a bookkeeper at Auschwitz-Birkenau whose main task was to strip Jewish inmates of their cash, made the plea in a statement read to a court in this town near Hamburg where he has stood trial since April.

    The court, convened in a converted meeting hall to accommodate spectators and the media, has charged Mr. Gröning with being an accessory to 300,000 counts of murder, almost all Hungarian Jews deported in the summer of 1944 to Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland. If convicted, he could face three to 15 years in prison.

    Scores of people showed up at Wednesday’s hearing in anticipation of Mr. Gröning’s statement, which he said was inspired by the impassioned testimony of Holocaust survivors and the relatives of victims who have testified since the trial opened on April 21.

    At that opening session, Mr. Gröning riveted the court with an hourlong account of his life, focusing particularly on his service at Auschwitz-Birkenau from 1942 to the fall of 1944. He acknowledged his “moral guilt” and complicity, but said that it was up to the court to judge his guilt before the law.

    His case, brought by state prosecutors and 65 plaintiffs — Holocaust survivors and relatives — may well be the last trial of a former Nazi complicit in the mass extermination of Jews. Of the roughly 6,500 SS members employed to administer Auschwitz-Birkenau, only 49 have been convicted of war crimes.

    As on the opening day, Mr. Gröning shuffled into court hunched over a walker, and was aided by two medical assistants. His frailty has increased over the trial, but he seemed fully alert once seated between his two defense lawyers.

    In the statement read by one of his lawyers, Susanne Frangenberg, Mr. Gröning readily acknowledged his complicity in the Holocaust, although he reiterated that his job at Auschwitz primarily involved collecting money from arriving prisoners, and not the extermination of Jews and others in gas chambers.

    “Even if I was not directly involved with these murders,” his statement read, “I did, through my activities, contribute to the functioning of the Auschwitz camp. I’m aware of this.”

    In his opening-day statement, Mr. Gröning described witnessing two acts of horrific violence — a baby being bludgeoned to death by a camp guard, and the gassing of prisoners herded into a hut. Significantly, however, both episodes occurred in 1942, shortly after his arrival at the camp, and not in the period in 1944 over which he is charged.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Gröning said in his statement that he had worked sporadically on the ramp where new prisoners were taken off incoming trains. It was there, he said, that he witnessed “terrible scenes” that led him to submit three requests for transfer from the camp to the war front. This was finally granted in the fall of 1944.

    Mr. Gröning attributed his involvement in the atrocities committed at Auschwitz to a form of psychological repression that he still cannot entirely explain. “Perhaps it was the habit of accepting facts as they appeared, in order to process them later,” his statement read. “Or perhaps it was also the comfort of obedience with which we were raised, and which did not allow for protests.”

    Two other Germans in their nineties have been charged with crimes related to service in the Nazi death camps, but their age and frailty make it unlikely that they will stand trial.

    (…no such considerations for their victims though-participo)

    The late trials — more than 70 years after Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz — became conceivable only after the 2011 verdict against John Demjanjuk, a former autoworker in the United States who was found guilty of accessory to mass murder at the Sobibor camp. He died before his appeal was heard, and thus the principle became established in German law that one could try ex-Nazis for atrocities, even if there was no evidence tying them directly to those deeds.

    On Wednesday, a survivor who had previously been unable to appear in court testified to the suffering.

    The witness, Irene Weiss, now 84, said she was unable to forgive Mr. Gröning. “He has said that he does not consider himself a perpetrator but merely a small cog in a machine,” she said. “But if he were sitting here today wearing his SS uniform, I would tremble and all the horror that I experienced as a 13-year-old would return to me.

    “Any person who wore that uniform in that place represented terror and the depths to which humanity can sink, regardless of what function they performed.”

    Mr. Gröning’s statement on Wednesday concluded with the reiteration of his belief that the enormity of his guilt makes it impossible for him to ask forgiveness from survivors and relatives of victims.

    “Considering the dimension of the crimes committed in Auschwitz and elsewhere, I don’t consider myself entitled to such a request,” the statement read. “I can only ask forgiveness from the Lord.”

    Thomas Walther, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, expressed disappointment with the statement in a telephone call after the court session.

    “This is about earthly guilt, not guilt before God,” Mr. Walther said. “We’re not at the Last Judgment. We’re at the last Auschwitz trial on earth.”

    Posted by participo | July 2, 2015, 10:11 am

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