'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' dies before starting sentence: Der Spiegel

  • 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' dies before starting sentence: Der Spiegel

'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' dies before starting sentence: Der Spiegel

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.

A spokesman of the prosecutor's office in the northern city of Hanover told AFP that Oskar Groening's lawyer had informed him of his death, but he was unable to confirm it officially.

Groening admitted he was morally guilty for the work he carried out at Auschwitz, which included sending bank notes he found in Jews' luggage to SS offices in Berlin, where they helped to fund the Nazi war effort.

Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners' belongings at Auschwitz and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin - the actions that earned him the "Accountant of Auschwitz" label. He was expected to start his four-year prison sentence, but died at a hospital, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing Germany's Der Spiegel.

One million European Jews were slaughtered in Auschwitz, only a sixth of the number who died as part of the Nazi regime overall.

His court battle was viewed a landmark as it was one of the last major cases surrounding the Holocaust. "I know that. I sincerely regret not having lived up to this realisation earlier and more consistently".

That approach changed radically after a legal precedent set by the 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk, who was found guilty by a Munich court as an accessory to the murder of more than 28,000 Jews while he was a guard at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

Groening lost an appeal in December, and in January, German prosecutors denied his clemency request.

It was unclear when Groening would have begun his prison sentence.