This week 93-year-old Oskar Groening is facing 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. Yes, you read that right, three hundred thousand! How is this possible? Oskar Groening worked at Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi concentration camp. Since he was just the bookkeeper, he insists that he never physically harmed a prisoner himself. In fact, when he originally volunteered, Groening says he knew nothing about the gas chambers but did later find out what was happening. During his time at Auschwitz, he was shocked by what was happening and requested on three occasions to be transferred to the front lines, but was denied. Now Groening has to stand trail for, at the very least, making the death camp a “smooth operation,” as the prosecutor has accused.
As he stood before the judge, Groening said, “For me there’s no question that I share moral guilt…I ask for forgiveness.” It’s hard to know exactly what facts are true or what exactly Oskar Groening had a hand in. However, from the best that we can see, Oskar Groening does seem to be sincere in his guilt (Yahoo).
For good reason, few people in the world are more detested than those involved in the Nazi concentration camps. Groening’s request for forgiveness cannot even begin to be captured by the word “difficult.” Forgiveness is something that is going to be extremely hard to come by for Oskar. Forgiveness is, however, something God has commanded us to do, no matter how difficult. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
If we want forgiveness from the Lord, then we must forgive others. This doesn’t mean they get a free pass from consequences. Does Oskar Groening deserve forgiveness? Yes. Does he deserve to be freed from the consequences of his actions? That is what this court case will ultimately decide.
Whether it is Oskar Groening, someone worse, or someone better, let’s forgive each other. While some are worse than others, in the end we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). We want God to forgive us, so let’s be forgiving people (Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:13; Matthew 18:21-22).