World

Oskar Groening, 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,' dies at 96

Oskar Groening, 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,' dies at 96

Groening was convicted in Lueneburg in 2015 as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews.

The former German SS man Oskar Groening, known as the "accountant of Auschwitz", is said to be dead before his four-year prison term ever started, the German media, Spiegel Online, reported on Monday, quoting a spokesman for the public prosecutors' office in Hannover. Soefker says the office is awaiting an official death certificate.

Groening, a former Auschwitz guard, was found guilty in 2015 for being an accessory to murder in hundreds of thousands of deaths at the concentration camp. He did not take part in any killings himself but counted cash taken from victims on their arrival at the camp.

German news magazine Der Spiegel said there had been no formal response at the time of Groening's death.

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".




A bank clerk in pre-war Germany, Groening never denied his Nazi past and accepted "moral responsibility" for the Holocaust on the first day of his trial.

His trial went to the heart of the question of whether people who were minor participants in the Nazi atrocities, but did not actively participate in the killing of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, were themselves guilty. Groening then made a plea for clemency January 15.

In 2016, Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at Auschwitz, was convicted of having assisted in the deaths of 170,000 people and sentenced to five years in prison.

For decades after the war, German courts argued that the top Nazi leadership was principally to blame for the mass murder of Jews and that lower-ranking individuals in the Holocaust machinery were bound by a chain of command and, therefore, less culpable.


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