Auschwitz accountant convicted of 300,000 counts of accessory to murder of Jews

Groening served as a bookkeeper at the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, sorting and counting the money taken from those killed or used as slave labour.

By: AFP | Lueneburg (germany) | Updated: July 15, 2015 8:30:13 pm
Nazi, Nazi SS, Nazi ss official, Oskar Groening, Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz, Nazi death camps, World news 94-year-old former SS sergeant Oskar Groening looks up as he listens to the verdict of his trial Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at a court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Groening, who served at the Auschwitz death camp was convicted on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and given a four-year sentence. (Tobias Schwarz/Pool Photo via AP)

A German court today sentenced a former Nazi SS officer known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz” to four years in jail, in what was expected to be one of the last Holocaust trials. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said “the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases” of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944.

Groening served as a bookkeeper at the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, sorting and counting the money taken from those killed or used as slave labour, collecting cash in different European currencies, and shipping it back to his Nazi bosses in Berlin.

OSKAR3 Groening, who served at the Auschwitz death camp was convicted on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and given a four-year sentence. (Tobias Schwarz/Pool Photo via AP)

The sentence was longer than the three and a half years prosecutors had demanded in the court in the northern city of Lueneburg, which has been hearing the case since April. Groening had yesterday seized a last opportunity to address the judges and said he was “very sorry” for his time stationed at the concentration camp, telling them that “no one should have taken part in Auschwitz”.

OSKAR4 94-year-old former SS sergeant Oskar Groening sits between his lawyers Hans Holtermann, right, and Susanne Frangenberg, left, during the verdict of his trial Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at a court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. (Axel Heimken/Pool Photo via AP)

“I know that. I sincerely regret not having lived up to this realisation earlier and more consistently. I am very sorry,” he said, his voice wavering. A group of Holocaust survivors said in a statement released after the verdict “we welcome the conviction of Oskar Groening”, calling it a “very late step toward justice”.

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Groening had testified in April and again this month that he was so horrified by the crimes he witnessed at the camp after his arrival in 1942 that he appealed three times to his superiors for a transfer to the front, which was not granted until autumn 1944.

OSKAR5 94-year-old former SS sergeant Oskar Groening arrives for the verdict of his trial Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at a court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. (Tobias Schwarz/Pool Photo via AP)

Groening has acknowledged “moral guilt” but said it is up to the court to rule on his legal culpability seven decades after the Holocaust. Some 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished between 1940 and 1945 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp before it was liberated by Soviet forces.

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