Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' dies before starting sentence

'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' dies before starting sentence

German prosecutors said Monday they were notified that a former Nazi death camp guard dubbed the "Accountant of Auschwitz" died before he could begin serving his four-year sentence.

Spiegel said Groening died on Friday but prison authorities had yet to receive a death certificate.

Groening admitted he was morally guilty for the work he carried out at Auschwitz, which included sending bank notes he found in Jews' luggage to SS offices in Berlin, where they helped to fund the Nazi war effort.

There were several occasions when he was assigned to "ramp duty", which involved processing new arrivals.

Groening, a former Auschwitz guard, was found guilty in 2015 for being an accessory to murder in hundreds of thousands of deaths at the concentration camp.

During his trial, Groening acknowledged "moral guilt" but said it was up to the court to rule on his legal culpability.

"The essential, nearly frightening, point about Oskar Groening is that he is one of the least exceptional human beings you are ever likely to meet", said author Laurence Rees, who interviewed Groening in 2005.

Groening's court battle was seen as one of the last major trials related to the Holocaust, during which some 6 million Jews were murdered by Adolf Hitler's regime.

His case followed the conviction of former concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk, who was sentenced because he had served at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland - rather than for crimes he was known to have committed.

Germany's constitutional court ruled in late December that he must serve out his sentence, rejecting defenders' argument that imprisonment at such an advanced age would violate his "right to life".

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