UK

Oskar Groening trial: Holocaust survivor Susan Pollock 'fearful'

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Media captionAuschwitz survivors continue to testify at trial of a former SS guard Oskar Groening.

An Auschwitz survivor has said she is "fearful" of giving evidence at the trial of a former Nazi guard, 70 years after she was sent to the camp.

Susan Pollock, 84, who now lives in north London, is expected to testify against Oskar Groening at a court in Germany later.

Mr Groening, 93, is accused of assisting in the murder of 300,000 victims of the Holocaust.

"I could easily erupt but I have to control it," Mrs Pollock told the BBC.

"I am fearful... of how I will be able to take being confronted with a Nazi. I have never met anyone who actually confessed to being a Nazi.

"I was a 13-year-old little girl. I don't remember his face but I remember the feeling. The feeling of terror."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Oskar Groening is one of the few Germans to speak out about his role in the genocide

Mrs Pollock, who is originally from Hungary, not only survived Auschwitz but also the Belsen concentration camp.

She lost 50 members of her family at the hands of the Nazis, and hopes Mr Groening's trial will bring them justice.

Bookkeeper

"It was indescribable what that arrival meant. We could never imagine in a million years the horror the barbarity just hit us," she said.

"The fact a German court wants to listen to us, that in itself is to be honoured.

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Media captionAuschwitz survivor Ivor Perl was sent to the camp from his home in Hungary

"I am not saying a prison sentence will make much difference. It won't bring my family back, but we can perhaps influence the future."

Mrs Pollock is not the only UK resident to give evidence at the trial. Ivor Perl, who was just 12 when he entered the death camp, has already testified.

In an interview with the BBC afterwards, he said: "I looked up and I could see this elderly man and [I thought)]is that the person who is being accused of all that.

"Do you know what I felt? Pity."

Mr Groening was known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz and served there between May and June 1944.

He says his job involved cataloguing prisoners' valuables and, although he witnessed the killing of victims in the gas chambers, he did not directly take part.

His case will test the argument that anyone who served at a Nazi concentration camp was complicit in what happened there.

If found guilty, Mr Groening could face three to 15 years in prison.


Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

Image copyright AFP
  • Construction began in 1940 on site that grew to 40 sq km (15 sq miles)
  • About one million Jews were killed at the camp
  • Other victims included Roma (Gypsies), disabled people, homosexuals, dissidents, non-Jewish Poles and Soviet prisoners

How the Holocaust unfolded, year by year

Why did ordinary people commit atrocities in the Holocaust?

How did one Englishman save 669 children from the Holocaust?


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