March 21, 2018

Nazi 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' dies after prison sentencing

13 March 2018, 10:46 | Opal Carroll

Oskar Groening admitted he was ‘morally guilty for the murders’ of Jews at Auschwitz where he collected money from victims

Oskar Groening admitted he was ‘morally guilty for the murders’ of Jews at Auschwitz where he collected money from victims

The legal doctrine under which Nazis can be tried in Germany began to evolve with the conviction in 2011 of another convicted Nazi war criminal, John Demjanjuk, as an accessory to the murder of 28,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp in Poland.

A spokesman of the prosecutor's office in the northern city of Hanover told AFP that Oskar Groening's lawyer had informed him of his death, but he was unable to confirm it officially.

Reports of his death surfaced on Monday, though the German publication der Spiegel reported that he died Friday and authorities had not yet received his death certificate.

A German court convicted Groening in 2015 as an accessory to murder and sentenced him to four years in prison. Groening was nicknamed the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" based on counting the amount of the victims' money when they arrived at the concentration camp and sending the bank notes to Berlin.

Groening's role at Auschwitz rose to prominence when he gave interviews in 2005 about his work at the camp. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes.

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Oskar Groening as a young man in an SS uniform.

Germany's constitutional court ruled in late December that he must serve out his sentence, rejecting defenders' argument that imprisonment at such an advanced age would violate his "right to life".

His first plea for clemency was denied by German prosecutors a day after it was made public, but he never served the sentence due to a raft of further appeals.

Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said it was unfortunate that Groening's conviction didn't result in "at least symbolic justice" for the victims of Auschwitz.

In 2016, former SS sergeant Reinhold Hanning was convicted on 170,000 counts of accessory to murder for serving as an Auschwitz guard.

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