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The Accountant Of Auschwitz

Seventy years after WWII, the accountant of Auschwitz goes on trial as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people

Why is Germany prosecuting former SS guards now in their 90s, most of whom will never live to serve jail sentences? In this measured, informative and thought-provoking documentary, Toronto director Matthew Shoychet uses the case of Oskar Gröning, the so-called accountant of Auschwitz (he tallied the prisoners’ confiscated possessions), to examine the rationale behind last-ditch trials of ageing war criminals.

Poster for the war-crimes documentary The Accountant Of AuschwitzIronically, Gröning came to the attention of authorities because he gave interviews refuting Holocaust deniers, but he also took little responsibility for his part in the killing machine. Shoychet and writer Ricki Gurwitz explain how both Germany’s failure to prosecute war criminals in the 1940s and ‘50s, and the precedent-setting conviction of former camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk in 2011 produced the recent trials.

The film considers scapegoating and whether a man in his 90s is the same person as the one in his 20s, but gives more space to arguments in favour of late justice. Using powerful interviews with four remarkably composed Auschwitz survivors, it argues that Gröning’s conviction serves as both reminder of the past and precedent for the future.

– Kate Taylor, The Globe And Mail

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