Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Former 'Bookkeeper Of Auschwitz' Dies Prior To Jail Sentence

Former 'Bookkeeper Of Auschwitz' Dies Prior To 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.

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

Groening was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

The 96-year-old former "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" died before starting his jail sentence for participation in the Holocast, according to a Sunday report.

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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. Groening was nicknamed the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" based on counting the amount of the victims' money when they arrived at the concentration camp and sending the bank notes to Berlin. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes. Groening himself did not kill murder any people at Auschwitz.

"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. Most recently, his lawyers made one final bid for clemency, a decision on which still was pending. He was in hospital when he died and had yet to begin his sentence.

The legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis changed in 2011 with Germany's landmark conviction of former death camp guard John Demjanjuk.

Germany's constitutional court rejected an argument in late December that imprisonment at such an advanced age would violate his "right to life".

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