The bookkeeper of Musicians at Auschwitz
The SS officer Oskar Gröning served for two years in the concentration camp Auschwitz.Counting the money from the dead Jews and was on duty at the ramp when freight trains unloaded their human cargo unhappy. He says he has not committed any crime. During the last sixty years, Groening has found another way to call guilt.
The birds are singing outside; a soft, warm breeze comes from the garden and delicately enters the living. An old, tall and powerful man, with his white hair and blue eyes, sitting on a chair near the fireplace. Three angels are embroidered on a tablecloth.
The man rests his right leg on a stool. It is peaceful, calm and gently talks about the history of the man who once was.
“It got a new shipment. He had been assigned to the ramp and my job was to take care ofthe luggage. The Jews had already been taken away. Around me the floor was littered with garbage, debris scattered belongings. Suddenly I heard a crying baby. He lay on the ramp wrapped in rags. A mother had left him perhaps because he knew that women with children were sent immediately to the gas chambers. I saw another soldier SS soldier take the baby by the feet. The tears had bothered him. Smashed the child’s head against the iron edge of a wheelbarrow until the silence. ”
The man looks outside the living room window, almost motionless. His thumb comes and goes over the edge of his seat like a metronome. Outside, the sun shines on the neat row of brick houses around, with carefully tended, weeded gardens. Oskar Gröning lives in a neat and orderly world. Unbuttons and raises his left sleeve. “Here,” he says, “look at this.”
There is a small blue spot on his elbows, the memory of a tattoo. ” I was badly done,” he says. It was supposed to be a zero, representing the blood type 0. All were tattooed in Auschwitz, both prisoners and guards. Jews were tattooed with their numbers as internal and SS guards with their blood type. Oskar Gröning was a member of the SS in Auschwitz for two years.
His dreams wake cries often. The cries become thunder, thunder in whispers and murmurs quietly. They are the sounds of death in the gas chambers.
A world organized in terror
Gröning without embardo, did not kill anyone. He did not pour Zyklon B into the cracks or burned piles of dead. He looked. He saw. He was there. Shoqueado at first. Then indifferent. It became routine.
He lived in an organized world and its order claimed that the terror of the concentration camps could be compartmentalized, apart from the foundations of civilization. Terror was conceived in clear hierarchical structures and schemes closely regulated service designations tasks and positions, which determined that someone was a bookkeeper and another a Cloud bookkeeper.
Gröning was a bookkeeper, a good conscientious. Counting the money of the Jews, he separated and cataloged and kept in a safe. It was the bookkeeper of terror.
There is a photo album on the coffee table, Gröning’s life in pictures. Two thirds of the photos are in black and white, the last third color. But the pictures do not reveal anything of what he means. Gröning just wants to talk, for hours, days, “no matter how long,” he says, “talking helps.”
Oskar Gröning, born in 1921, it is one of the few members of the SS who still lives. Its history, a German history is a story of seduction and fanaticism, perpetrators and accomplices of living with guilt and search for other words to call. It is a story of a man attempted to overcome such a dark past that has no end.
Open the album. Thin sheets between pages and browse whisper family photos of his father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt Marie, pictures of baby carriages and bicycles, until they get images of men in uniform. His father was a member of the “Stahlhelm” (Steelhull), a paramilitary group of German nationalists who fought against the Pact of Versailles, against the demands for reparations from World War I , later against the Weimar Republic between the two wars and against democracy. “Dad nationalists acted in theater works that were given in local lounges located behind bars,” says Groening. In a work, a German was shot by a French because he had resisted the French occupation of post-war Germany ‘s Ruhr industrial area. “Discipline, obedience, authority, that’s how we were raised,” says Groening. His mother died when he was 4 years.
The Jews were merchants dirty ”
continues leafing through the album, clearly searching for something. “Here,” touches a picture with your finger, “look at the way we used to go.”
The photo, taken in 1933, shows a group of boys wearing military uniforms, marching behind a banner. A flag with a swastika hanging in a house. The young Oskar, marching in the first row, twelve years and is a member of the youth wing of the “Stahlhelm.”
What uniform meant for you?
“I was fascinated. Even today, when I hear military music … “her voice trembles and breaks. “Forgive me, but is such an experience for me, so high, even today …”
Near the house his father had a business selling iron objects whose owner was a Jew named Selig. He had a daughter, Anne, and the two boys used to play marbles on the street. One day some men from the SA placed in front of business a sign that read: “. Germans not buy from Jews” After that, Gröning and Anne began playing in the yard rather than on the street.
-¿ What were you thinking when I saw that poster?
“Nothing, completely nothing,” says Groening. His voice has been stilled and is firm again.
A door opens and his wife left a tray with cake on the table. The tray is covered with plastic wrap. “For later,” he says. And he goes. He prefers not to hear.
He waits until his wife closed the front door. Then he says: “See? For us dirty Jews were merchants, and lawyers who have always been so grim reputation when it came to money.People said: The Jews always take advantage of Christians. It is the usual way we behave. ”
-perhaps The father of Anne Selig took advantage of people?
” I did not think so. ”
Oskar Gröning lower leg stool, he sits upright and begins to sing, quietly at first, then louder. “When Jewish blood begins to gush from our knives, things will be fine.”
“My honor is loyalty”
The distinction between man of today and the past is erased for a moment when hereturns to present says “Then we not even think about what we were singing.” He
continues leafing through the album. It has written in blue ink on a photo with jagged edges “1941, with Aunt Anna”. Gröning shows young, tall, blond and wearing a uniform with the letters SS sewn in the neck. It sits on the arm of a chair and smiles, obviously very proud of his uniform.
He had seen pictures of the SS weekly news reports. I thought they were smart, smarter the unity of all. En1940 offered himself as a volunteer.
” It was spontaneous enthusiasm, a sense of not wanting to be the last of the game, left out of everything that happened.”
Already in the SS, for two years, Groening worked in the payment office. In October 1942, he received new orders. A senior officer told him he had been assigned to a special job, one of the greatest importance for the German people, for Germany to reach the final victory.He was told to think about your oath, in the words inscribed on his belt. “My honor is loyalty.” And he said, finally , that could never reveal the nature of his new assignment, anyone, for the rest of your life.
the stroke of a clock in the living hear. It’s six o’clock and Oskar Gröning has been talking for the last five hours. Eating cake and keep talking. At that point in its history, the young Gröning has come to Auschwitz.
‘Perhaps the old Gröning want a break?
“No, no, do not bother me at all,” he says. Bring a bottle of mineral water from the kitchen.His wife has not returned.
Gröning is 21 years old when he arrives at Auschwitz on October 1. It comes at a train from Katowice, and is brought to its place in the administrative barracks. Others, who were already before, begin to set the table for dinner: sardines and ham, vodka and rum.
The SS are comfortable in this field. But there must be something special about it, think Gröning. They take much. Then a door opens and someone announces that it has reached a new transport. Three men stand a jump, belts fit and take their guns.