Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Oskar Groening died a guilty man

Oskar Groening died a guilty man

The former German SS man Oskar Groening, known as the "accountant of Auschwitz", is said to be dead before his four-year prison term ever started, the German media, Spiegel Online, reported on Monday, quoting a spokesman for the public prosecutors' office in Hannover.

According to German reports, Gröning could prove to be the last Nazi war criminal to have faced trial. He was convicted in 2015 for being an accessory to the murders of 300,000 people. However, his lawyers asked for the sentence to be suspended on the basis of the defendant's advanced age.

Groening, a former Nazi SS officer, did not kill anyone himself while working at the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, but the lower court ruled he helped support those responsible for mass murder through various actions, including by sorting bank notes seized from trainloads of arriving Jews.

He had been expected to enter prison at the end of January, but the continued wrangling over the state of his health kept him from beginning to serve his sentence. "I share morally in the guilt but whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide".

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The former Nazi was convicted in 2015 for his role in the Holocaust.

His was one of the last major court battles related to the Holocaust when six million Jews were murdered under Adolf Hitler.

"Without at least symbolic justice, these trials, as important as they are, lose an important part of their significance", said the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization that has worked to track down the world's remaining Nazis. "Their victims never had any appeals, nor did their tormentors have any mercy, consequently these perpetrators don't deserve either".

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