A Front-Row Seat to Germany’s Long Reckoning With Its Past

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tags: Auschwitz



In many ways, it is fitting that Germany’s last trial of a former SS guard at Auschwitz played out far from the spotlight, in this pretty provincial town of 70,000.

It was from places like these — a rural corner of North Rhine-Westphalia, modern Germany’s most populous state — that the Nazis formed their bedrock, the millions of men and women who signed up to Hitler’s apparently triumphant cause and with little questioning executed its murderous maxims.

They were people like Reinhold Hanning, 94, who on Friday was sentenced to five years as an accessory to at least 170,000 deaths during his time as an SS guard at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, from January 1943 to mid-1944.




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