Former 'Bookkeeper Of Auschwitz' Dies Prior To Jail Sentence

Nellie Chapman
March 13, 2018

Hannover prosecutor Kathrin Soefker said a lawyer informed her office that Oskar Groening, 96, died in a hospital on Friday.

Prison authorities have yet to provide Groening's death certificate.

Oskar Groening, defendant and former Nazi SS officer dubbed the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz" leaves the court after the announcement of his verdict in Lueneburg, Germany, July 15, 2015.

According to German magazine, Der Spiegel, he was sentenced to four years for being an accessory to the murder of millions of Jews.

At Groening's original trial in Lueneburg, Germany, Judge Franz Kompisch said Groening was part of the "machinery of death" at the Nazi camp in Auschwitz, Poland, and also stole money from victims, although no evidence was presented that tied him directly to any deaths.

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All of his appeals were rejected, and it was only his ill health that kept him from being sent to prison in recent years. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes. Most recently, his lawyers made one final bid for clemency, a decision on which still was pending.

He was accused of counting the cash found in the belongings of new arrivals at the camp and sending it to Nazi headquarters in Berlin.

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.

That approach changed radically after a legal precedent set by the 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk, who was found guilty by a Munich court as an accessory to the murder of more than 28,000 Jews while he was a guard at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

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.

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