Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz', 96, dies before being jailed

'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz', 96, dies before being jailed

A former Nazi death camp guard dubbed the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" has died before he could begin serving his four-year sentence, a lawyer told German prosecutors.

Groening was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people at Auschwitz.

Hannover prosecutor Kathrin Soefker says a lawyer informed her office that Oskar Groening died Friday in a hospital. He did not take part in any killings himself but counted cash taken from victims on their arrival at the camp.

Around 1.1 million people, mostly Jews from across Europe, were killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex between 1940 and 1945.

About six million Jewish people died in Nazi concentration camps during the war.

Groening said at the time that he had chosen to speak out to persuade Holocaust deniers of the truth.

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For many years after the war, Groening worked as an accountant in a factory and suppressed what he had witnessed and participated in at Auschwitz.

This admission opened him up to public attention and scrutiny - and ultimately prosecution. In court, he admitted to sharing "moral guilt" for crimes at the death camp, but maintained he never personally murdered prisoners.

Groening insisted in a 2005 interview with Der Spiegel that he had been no more than a "cog in the gears".

Zuroff pointed out that two other Nazi war criminals - John Demjanjuk, who was convicted in 2011, and Reinhold Hanning, who was convicted in 2016 - also died while awaiting decisions on their appeals.

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. This was one of the last Holocaust-related court trials.

"Their victims never had any appeals, nor did their tormentors have any mercy, consequently these perpetrators don't deserve either", the group said in a statement.

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