Confessing at his trial to “moral guilt”, the once proud SS sergeant Oskar Groening was charged with being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews, which followed with a sentence of four years in prison Lueneburg, Germany). Overseeing the prisoners belongings (valuables and cash) by collecting them once they got off the train at at Auschwitz, and was promptly sent to Berlin. A legal precedent was set during the 2 1/2 month trial (where he sat expressionless).
For Law scholars, professors, and law students, Judge Franz Kompisch’s handling of the Lueneburg state court’s ruling, will ensure in the future more 11th hour prosecutions of former NAZI members who served in World War 2 death camps. There is no statute of limitations for murder in any international jurisdiction.
By not being involved in the physical side of mass murder in the NAZI death camps, they can be liable for solicitation, accessory before, during, and after the fact, an accomplice, and comspiracy. The precedent will give the Simon Wiesenthal Center more ammunition with which to fight the struggle. Mr. Efraim Zuroff should take note. People who were instrumental behind the scenes of the Final Solution will be held liable.
Judge Kompisch’s remark about Groening being born in a different time, growing up after World War 1 in Germany (to a right wing nationalist party), in a society where Jews were portrayed as a danger to his country, as many other SS soldiers joined under their own volition. They were swept up in the movement.
Dubbed the accountant of Auschwitz, he was part of the “Machinery of Death”, in his duties of collecting stolen money from the victims to help the Nazi cause. Knowing exactely what was going on at the death camps, he had other options (i.e. transferring out); but that meant fighting a more viable enemy (the Russians). Kompisch decided to major in the minors and take the easy way out causing him minimal stress. In Judge Kompisch’s eyes he should be seen as an accessory to murder. He did not talk to reporters while walking out of the courtroom.
Hungarian Jews (hundreds of thousands of them) between the period of May-June 1944, were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi occupied Poland, where gassing became an immediate daily ritual. Groening was open about his past during the 17 days of trials, thinking that would help get him a lighter sentence. Groenings defense team had argued for acquittal citing that he was not the one who facilitated mass murder. The judges went beyond the traditional 3 1/2 year sentence that the prosecutors sought. Being upfront about his contribution and testifying about it still doesn’t make it appropiate to impose a lower sentence.
Given a week to appeal both the prosecutors and defense will consider the option. Until then Groening remains free, and there is talk that he will not go to prison. Many Auschwitz survivors and their relatives were present at the trial as co plaintiffs, (as dictated by German Law) and testified. Lawyer Thomas Walther (former Nazi prosecutor of Nazi era crimes) who represented 51 co-plaintiffs, helped to advance the new legal theory that service in a death camp is enough to prosecute someone as an accessory to murder, leading to new prosecutions. Many co-plaintiffs came to see the verdict, but could not forgive Groening. Ine example was cited where a co-plaintiff’s mother’s ring was forced off her finger as she was forced off the train.
Some suggestions on the table wouuld be to, 1) have the people that were working in the employ of the Nazi’s at the death camps (people who tortured their own countrymen) be held liable as accomplices to murder, 2) have neighboring towns pay some sort of restitution for their knowing ignorance-Jewel instruction to the situation going on around them, 3) have special teams of lawyers scholars, and law students research the current topics thru international relations, 4) use the trial to set a precedent for the most recent conflicts such as ISIS leaders, Syrian rebels, the Taliban, and any other terrorist organizations who feel that they can get away with committing acts of violence and murder to further their aim. The long arm of international law is long enough to stretch to their area of the world.