German Court to Try Former Nazi Guard for Murder

Oskar Groening, 93, arrested in September for his role in the deaths of 300,000 people during the Holocaust, will be tried in 2015.

Cynthia Blank,

Auschwitz entrance
Auschwitz entrance
Thinkstock

A 93-year-old man arrested in September on suspicion of serving as a guard at Auschwitz, the Nazi's deadliest concentration camp during the Holocaust, will be tried in 2015, a German court stated Monday. 

The accused, Oskar Groening, is set to be tried on the charge of accessory to the murders of over 300,000 people at a court in the northern German city of Lueneburg, 

Groening has acknowledged that he witnessed atrocities in his role as a death camp guard, but claims he didn't actively commit any of the atrocities himself.

Hanover prosecutors said in the indictment that Groening is suspected of having worked as an SS guard at Auschwitz, located in occupied Poland, between September 1942 and October 1944. 

Besides his guard duties, he is believed to have been in charge of counting and managing the money seized from those people deported to Auschwitz. He then would then pass the money of murdered prisoners to his SS superiors in Berlin. 

In this way, Groening "helped the Nazi regime benefit economically, and supported the systematic killings."

The prosecutors in Hanover added that Groening helped remove the luggage of victims so that it was not seen by new arrivals, noting "the traces of the mass killing of concentration camp prisoners were thereby supposed to be covered for subsequent inmates."

The specific charges against Groening relate to a two-month period between May and July 1944.

An estimated 137 trains arrived at the concentration camp carrying 425,000 people, mostly Hungarian Jews, during that time period. At least 300,000 of those deportees were murdered immediately upon arrival. 

"The accused knew that, as part of the selection process, those not chosen for work and told they were going to the showers were really going to the gas chambers where they would be put to death in an agonizing manner," the court said in a September statement of the case. 

Sixteen survivors or relatives of survivors have come forward against the former guard, the Lueneburg court said. Eight of them have been approved to testify. 

Six million Jews as well as Roma, homosexuals, disabled person, and political opponents to the Nazis were systematically exterminated during the Holocaust. Roughly one million were murdered in Auschwitz. 

Nearly 70 years later, most of the perpetrators have either died or are considered unfit for trial. 

As time runs out to bring surviving war criminals to justice, Nazi-hunting groups like the Simon Wiesenthal Center are pushing for the thousands of people who staffed the death camps or helped transport Jewish victims across Europe be pursued and prosecuted before it is too late. 




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