Auschwitz bookkeeper dies before jail sentence

Auschwitz bookkeeper dies before jail sentence

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.

Groening's lawyer, Hans Holterman, told German public broadcaster NDR, that the former Nazi died last week.

The entrance to the infamous Auschwitz prison camp.

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Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners' belongings and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin.

But while he admitted witnessing individual atrocities, he did not acknowledge participating in any crimes.

Mr Groening's court case was seen as one of the last major cases related to the Holocaust, where some 6 million Jews were murdered by Adolf Hitler's regime.

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Oskar Groening at his trial. Germany's Federal Constitutional Court rejected his appeal in a December 21, 2017, ruling and sentenced him to four years in prison, CBS News reported.

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.

Zuroff pointed out that two other Nazi war criminals - John Demjanjuk, who was convicted in 2011, and Reinhold Hanning, who was convicted in 2016 - also died while awaiting decisions on their appeals. He asked for forgiveness and spoke openly of his experiences at the death camp, saying his testimony would stand in opposition to Holocaust deniers.

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The "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" has died aged 96 before beginning a prison sentence for his involvement in the killing hundreds of thousands of Jews.

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