ELIZABETH KOLBERT’S ‘THE LAST TRIAL’ IS A MUST READ

I watched the 1978 Holocaust mini-series again today.

I read and reread and watch and re-watch the Holocaust literature, documentaries and movies, whenever I get time. Yes, watching those images is excruciatingly painful, but is a must (and should be must for every adult).

And it coincided with a brilliant article on the Holocaust I chanced upon while doing some random scrolling down of my Facebook feed.

Obviously, it had to be brilliant, extensive, in-depth and engaging like a one-sit reading, as it was a The New Yorker piece.

‘The Last Trial: A Great-grandmother, Auschwitz and the Arc of Justice’, an article spread over 6000 words, written by Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer with The New Yorker, traces the German legal process on the Holocaust through notable criminal trials, her discovery of messages by her great-grandmother from Berlin to her grandfather in the United States and her decision to join Stolpersteine, a public art project by German artist Gunter Demnig to memorialize the Holocaust victims.

A Stolpersteine has details of a Holocaust victim on a brass plaque fixed on a concrete block. It is fixed at the last known address of a person before he/she was deported to a death camp and the project has spread well beyond Germany to other European countries with generations perished in the Nazi gas chambers.

Through these events, Elizabeth Kolbert weaves an engaging analysis of the German attitude on trying Nazi war criminals legally.

She begins with Oskar Groning, a former SS member, known as ‘the bookkeeper of Auschwitz’, who doubled up as a guard. Now 94, Groning is set to face trial in April for ‘being an accessory to murder of 300,000 people’ and explores the changing German attitude on Nazi atrocities, from a generation that took little interest in prosecuting those responsible for running the extermination camps and instead found legal ways to safeguard them, to the generation now that has put Oskar Groning on trial, after decades of settled public life.

Hundreds of thousands were involved in running some 300 concentration camps of Adolf Hitler, camps that did overtime to double as extermination camps, to achieve the ‘Final Solution’, of annihilating Jews. And just a handful of them were seriously tried for their crimes, the crimes for which there cannot be any forgiveness.

This article a must-read for everyone who cares for what happened in Germany and German occupied territories seven decades ago and what followed after it.

Thanks Elizabeth Kolbert.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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