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Former Auschwitz guard, 96, fit enough for prison, German court rules

Oskar Groening was known as the 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' for his role sorting through victims' belongings

    Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening, pictured leaving court after his guilt verdict was announced in July 2017
    Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening, pictured leaving court after his guilt verdict was announced in July 2017 Getty Images

    A former Auschwitz guard, aged 96, is healthy enough to serve a four year prison sentence, a German court has ruled.

    Oskar Groening, known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz” for his role in sorting through the belongings of the death camp victims, was found guilty in 2015 of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people.

    Despite being sentenced to time in prison, he has been living at home while appeals were lodged.

    However, the superior regional court in Celle, north Germany ruled on Wednesday that Groening was healthy enough to go to jail, as long as he received nursing and medical care while incarcerated.

    According to Groening, who has publicly admitted his role at Auschwitz, he came to the camp in 1942 as a committed Nazi, but was so horrified at what he saw happening there that he attempted on three occasions to be transferred to the front line, a transfer which was finally granted in 1944.

    Although he did not take part in any of the actual murders at the camp, he has described himself as “morally guilty”.

    In a 2005 BBC documentary he said: “I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria.

    “I was on the ramp when the selections [for the gas chambers] took place.”

    In an interview with Bild, the German magazine, he said that decades later he could still hear the screams from the gas chambers.

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