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German Court Sentences Auschwitz Bookkeeper

  • VOA News

FILE - Former SS officer Oskar Groening waits in a courtroom in Lueneburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2015.

FILE - Former SS officer Oskar Groening waits in a courtroom in Lueneburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2015.

A German court has sentenced a 94-year-old former Nazi officer to four years in prison for working as a bookkeeper in the Auschwitz death camp during World War II.

The court in Lueneburg on Wednesday handed down its sentence for Oskar Groening, finding him guilty of more than 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.

Groening has admitted working in the death camp, collecting money and belongings from the Jews arriving there from May to July of 1944. Most of the prisoners were gassed to death soon after arrival.

Groening, who has been nicknamed the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz," has admitted "moral guilt" for his actions but had said he was never directly involved in the killing of the prisoners.

"For me there's no question that I share moral guilt," Groening said at opening of his trial in April. About 70 Holocaust survivors and victims' relatives attended.

Groening admitted he knew about the gassing of prisoners, most of them Jews. He asked "for forgiveness," adding that the court would have to decide on his "culpability."

More than 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland between June 1940 and January 1945, as part of the "Final Solution," Adolf Hitler's plan to exterminate Europe's Jews. About 1.1 million of them, mainly Jews, perished in the gas chambers or from harsh treatment, starvation and disease. In all, the Nazis killed an estimated six million of pre-war Europe's 11 million Jews.

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