Canadian Holocaust survivor says former SS guard is 'absolutely complicit'
Published Tuesday, April 21, 2015 2:54PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 21, 2015 7:25PM EDT
A Holocaust survivor, now living in Toronto, is set to testify at the trial of a former SS sergeant who helped keep guard as thousands of Jews were led to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
Bill Glied arrived at Auschwitz in May 1944, when he was just 13 years old. Although he arrived with his parents and sister, he was the only member of his family to survive after the camp was liberated in 1945.
Glied is set to testify at the trial of Oskar Groening, a former SS sergeant who kept guard at the concentration camp. Groening's trial opened Tuesday in Germany, and the 93-year-old has been charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.
Groening, who volunteered to join the SS in 1940, told the court that besides helping out on the camp's ramps, his main job was to help collect and tally money coming from the prisoners' stolen belongings.
Prosecutor Jens Lehmann told the court that through his job Groening "supported the machinery of death." But Groening testified that he did not know what his duty would be until he arrived at Auschwitz.
He said that while he shared "morally in the guilt," the court would have to decide if he was guilty under the law.
Glied said that while he arrived at Auschwitz at the same time that Groening worked there, he can't remember if he saw him on that day as he was being led to the camp from the train.
"Everything went so terribly fast and so chaotic, that I wouldn't remember him even if I saw him there," he told CTV News Channel.
He believes though that the former sergeant played a part in the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, rejecting the notion that Groening simply supported the Nazi death camp.
"First of all he volunteered for the SS, and I believe he must have volunteered to come to Auschwitz as well," he said. "But regardless of that fact, just being there, knowing what is happening there, he is absolutely complicit. I feel very strongly about that."
Glied said Groening should be convicted for his crimes, but doesn't believe he should be sent to jail, given his old age.
He added that while testifying at Groening's trial will certainly be an emotional task, he feels he has a responsibility to share his story.
"I am one of the few survivors who are still capable of travelling, and I feel I have a duty to be here to represent all of the people who perished there, including my mom, my sister, my parents, my grand-parents, all of them," he said.
With files from The Associated Press