Oskar Groening, a 93-year-old former guard at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, was charged by German prosecutors with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder over his role in the genocidal Nazi war machine.
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, reports Associated Press (AP).
However, German prosecutors said Monday that during his service in Auschwitz in 1944 Groening transferred the possessions and money of the murdered prisoners from the camp to his SS superiors in Berlin.
In this way, Groening "helped the Nazi regime benefit economically, and supported the systematic killings," they reasoned.
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."
They added that he was aware the prisoners deemed unfit to work "were murdered directly after their arrival in the gas chambers of Auschwitz."
AFP notes that a regional court must now decide whether Groening will go on trial.
Groening was arrested in March during a crackdown on Nazi camp guards, which followed the 2011 Munich trial of John Demjanjuk, a Nazi war criminal charged of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp and sentenced to five years. The former Nazi died in 2012.
The Demjanjuk ruling changed limitations by which Germany only prosecuted Nazi war criminals if witness testimony showed they personally committed atrocities, meaning that now all former Nazi camp guards can be tried for their part in the genocidal mass murder.
At Auschwitz roughly one million Jews were murdered, part of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.