In what is likely to be one of the last trials for involvement in the Holocaust, Oskar Groening – a guard at the Auschwitz death camp – was recently jailed for his role in the killings of over 300,000 Hungarian Jews.
Research by Dr Dan Plesch into the UNWCC’s archives has shown that legal charges against him are not new, however. In 1947, the Polish government charged Groening and several hundred other camp personnel at Auschwitz for a range of crimes including ‘common design’ (participation in the overall running of the death camp), as reported here in the Guardian.
The Commission, after assessing his case, categorised him as a ‘war crimes suspect’ for his involvement in the running of the camp in March 1947. These charges never came to anything, however – postwar Cold War tensions and the uncomfortable questions raised surrounding the prosecution of ex-Nazis (many of whom were in West Germany) meant that the Commission closed down a year later. The records survived, however – and following their declassification last year, research on them has unearthed these early attempts to prosecute Auschwitz staff ranging from camp commandants to individual prison guards.
To read the original files listing Groening’s charging by the Commission, click here!