One 91-year-old woman has been charged with 260,000 counts of accessory to murder in northern Germany. She is accused of being an SS radio operator at Auschwitz during World War II, where thousands of Jews and other undesirables were imprisoned, starved, and exterminated under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. The concept behind these allegations is that anyone who in any way aided the machinations of the Nazi Party that directly or indirectly led to the deaths of civilians can be considered an accomplice to the crime. In the case, the crime is steep.
This woman, who remains unnamed, is not the first one to be uncovered this year. 94-year-old former SS officer Oskar Groening was recently sentenced to four years in prison on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder, and in western Germany, Reinhold Hanning was discovered only several weeks ago and is charged with only 170,000 counts of accessory to murder. His lawyers are currently arguing that he is not even in fit condition to face trial. We as a society are reaching a time where there are increasingly fewer survivors of World War II every day, much less Nazi’s stationed at Auschwitz.
There is controversy as to whether the woman should be charged at all. Many argue that, although she aided Auschwitz in its functions as radio operator, she didn’t have any direct ties to the murders. They also claim that, Nazi Germany being Nazi Germany, the woman likely didn’t have any choice in her position and simply kept in line. The opposition points out that it would have been impossible for the woman to not know what was occurring at Auschwitz, and that relocating military posts was an option, even under Hitler’s leadership. Groening, for example, was known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz” and collected all the interned peoples’ belongings, and has admitted to also present during the selection process for termination in the gas chambers. It remains to be seen how the woman’s trial will proceed; however, the consistent precedent of conviction does not bode well for her.