Oskar Groening: 'Auschwitz book-keeper' jailed for four years over role in the murder of 300,000 people during Holocaust

High-profile court case unfolded in northern Germany

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The Independent Online

The man known as the ‘Book-keeper of Auschwitz’ has been sentenced for four years after being convicted of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people in one of the Nazi regime's most infamous concentration camps.

A court found 94-year-old Oskar Groening guilty after a high-profile court case, labelled by one Holocaust survivor as "the trial of the last Nazi".

Groening, who was responsible for sorting through the confiscated possessions of Jews brought to the Nazi’s most infamous camp, admitted “moral guilt” for his actions during the case.

However, lawyers arguing for the elderly German said he had not facilitated genocide - a charge disproved by prosecutors who claimed that he helped the camp to run smoothly.

The four year sentence imposed by judges went beyond the three year sentence sought by the prosecution.

The case in Lueneburg in Northern Germany heard testimonies from a number of Holocaust survivors – one of whom prompted Groening to admit he had never fully considered the implications of his involvement with the Nazi’s actions.

During the case he told the court-room that he was not entitled to ask for forgiveness from survivors as only God could forgive him.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder welcomed the court’s decision, saying that “justice has been done”.

 

Mr Lauder continued: “Mr Gröning was only a small cog in the Nazi death machine, but without the actions of people like him, the mass murder of millions of Jews and others would not have been possible.”

He added that it was “right” that Groening may spend his final years in prison and “that is a small punishment for the unspeakable crimes he abetted."

Angela Orosz-Richt, one of just two babies born in the camp who survived, testified at Groenings trial. During her emotional testimony, in which she recounted how her mother fought to keep her alive against every odd, she told the court: "We all still cry for those you took from us, Herr Gröning. We do not forget nor can we ever forgive."

More than a million people died in Auschwitz concentration camp, which in later years has become a focal point of remembrance and a poignant reminder of the barbarity of the German Nazi regime.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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