July 22, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Nazis in the Headlines: Oskar Groening, Uncovered Treasure, and Russell Brand

3 min read

Oskar Groening, the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz"

I’ve seen the word “Nazi” a lot in the headlines over the last few days. Obviously the main story is about Auschwitz Nazi officer Oskar Groening. However, just yesterday, news broke around the world about a man unearthing a Nazi-era treasure last October. And further down the headlines, at the bottom of the barrel (in entertainment news), Russell Brand called a Jewish man a “young Nazi” during one of his performances.

Oskar Groening Feels the Full Weight of the Court

Groening was found guilty by the Lueneburg court of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz death camp, in Nazi-occupied Poland, during World War II, and was given a four-year sentence for his crimes.

You may think that four years is a slap on the wrist for being the “the bookkeeper of Auschwitz.” However, taking into account Oskar Groening’s age, a man in his 90s, he may as well have been dealt a death sentence.

The court stated, “In deciding the penalty, the court in particular considered the plaintiff’s age and that he should have a chance to spend some part of his life in freedom after serving his sentence.”

Oskar Groening, the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”

As with any court decision, there are people on both sides of the fence.

As a man whose sole job was to collect and count the cash found in the belongings of new arrivals at the and to send it to Nazi headquarters in Berlin, Germany, some people believe that as someone who never actually murdered anyone, he shouldn’t be punished as he was just doing his job–of course, the public opinion is that he is evil and should be dealt with accordingly.

In a CNN video, I found it interesting that some interviewed thought that he shouldn’t go to jail, and that they should focus on the future and not punish this man.

As far as my opinion, I have mixed feelings. I’ve blogged about the horror of Kristallnacht. One of my more popular post, The Brothels of Auschwitz, talks about some of the unknown abhorrence that took place behind the Auschwitz gates. In fact, we’ve even discussed the fate of those in Nuremberg trials on this site. The destruction and genocide are foremost in my mind as I write this, but should a man who they are referring to as a “cog in the machine” and not a mastermind receive such a late sentence in his life? He appears sincerely apologetic…

Buried Nazi Gold Now in Lueneburg Museum

Buried Nazi gold netted one amateur archeologist a finder’s fee of about $2700. The following excerpt, from Newser.com tells the condition of the coins:

Experts were able to date the coins, which themselves were minted between 1831 and 1910, thanks in part to two seals that had formerly been part of the two pouches that held the coins; those pouches no longer exist. Chemical analysis dated the seals—which are made of aluminum, per Reuters—and other remnants to between 1940 and 1950. The seals featured a swastika, imperial eagle, and the words “Reichsbank Berlin 244.” The Mirror puts forth the theory that the gold was left there “in the chaotic final days of the war” and notes that the Reichsbank hid coins throughout the country as Berlin came under attack.



As for the coins’ future, they will be on display in the Lueneburg museum starting Sunday.


Russell Brand Continuing His Anti-Semitic Streak

He’s done it again. Several years ago, Russell Brand came under fire for his Nazi jokes at the 2013 GQ Men Of The Year Awards. Upon accepting the Oracle Award, he delivered the following as part of his acceptance speech:

“Any of you who know a little bit about history and fashion will know that Hugo Boss made the uniforms for the Nazis,” Brand quipped while accepting his award. “And the Nazis did have flaws, but, you know, they did look f**king fantastic, let’s face it, while they were killing people on the basis of their religion and sexuality.”

After being kicked out of the GQ awards after party, Brand tweeted this:


However, it didn’t stop there. This past week, during his stand-up routine, he called someone in the audience a “young Nazi,” not realizing that the man was indeed Jewish.

Not cool, Brand… not cool.