March 12 (UPI) — Oskar Groening, a former Nazi guard known as the so-called “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz” due to be sentenced for his war crimes, has died, his lawyer announced Monday. He was 96.
Groening’s lawyer, Hans Holterman, told German public broadcaster NDR, that the former Nazi died last week. A German court convicted Groening in 2015 as an accessory to murder and sentenced him to four years in prison.
At Groening’s original trial in Lueneburg, Germany, Judge Franz Kompisch said Groening was part of the “machinery of death” at the Nazi camp in Auschwitz, Poland, and also stole money from victims, although no evidence was presented that tied him directly to any deaths. Groening was convicted and sentenced for being an accessory to murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz during World War II.
At the trial, Groening admitted only to gathering money and valuables found in the luggage of the death camp victims and turning the property over to his superior officers. He asked for forgiveness and spoke openly of his experiences at the death camp, saying his testimony would stand in opposition to Holocaust deniers.
Groening never rose above the rank of corporal and said he worked in a back-office role.
“The essential, almost 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.