‘Auschwitz Concentration Camp Was a Nightmare’ says 94-Year-Old Nazi Death Camp Guard Apologizing During Trial
A 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard on trial in Germany apologized in court to victims on Friday, telling them he regretted being part of a “criminal organization” that had killed so many people and caused such suffering.
“I’m ashamed that I knowingly let injustice happen and did nothing to oppose it,” said Reinhold Hanning, a former Nazi SS officer, seated in a wheelchair in the court in Detmold, about 250 miles west of Berlin.
Hanning is charged with being an accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people.
Holocaust survivors, who detailed their horrific experiences at the trial which opened in February, have pleaded with Hanning to break his silence in what could be one of the last Holocaust court cases in Germany.
The elderly ex-Nazi spoke over the course of 12 hearings, which were limited to two hours each due to his old age.
“I want to tell you that I deeply regret having been part of a criminal organization that is responsible for the death of many innocent people, for the destruction of countless families, for misery, torment and suffering on the side of the victims and their relatives,” he said, reading in a firm voice from a paper he took out of his gray suit pocket.
“I have remained silent for a long time, I have remained silent all of my life,” he added.
His lawyer, Johannes Salmen, previously shared a detailed account of the defendant’s view of his life, particularly his time in Auschwitz.
In a 22-page declaration, Hanning admitted that he know about mass murder that was happening in the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
“I’ve tried to repress this period for my whole life. Auschwitz was a nightmare, I wish I had never been there,” the lawyer cited Hanning as saying.
Hanning’s attorney said his client was sent to Auschwitz after he was wounded in battle and commanders twice rejected his request to rejoin his comrades on the front.
I’m ashamed that I knowingly let injustice happen and did nothing to oppose it.’
“I accept his apology but I can’t forgive him,” said
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