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German court upholds former Auschwitz guard’s conviction

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Berlin : A German federal court said on Monday that it has thrown out a 95-year-old former Auschwitz death camp guard’s appeal against his conviction for being an accessory to murder, reports AP. The decision to uphold Oskar Groening’s conviction sets an important precedent for German prosecutors’ efforts to pursue others who allegedly served at Nazi death camps.

Groening was convicted in July 2015 of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews and sentenced by a court in Lueneburg to four years in prison. Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners’ belongings and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes.

The Federal Court of Justice said it had thrown out Groening’s appeal. It also rejected appeals from several survivors and their relatives who had joined the trial as co-plaintiffs, as is allowed under German law, and had sought a tougher conviction. It is the first time an appeals court has ruled on a conviction obtained under the logic that simply serving at a death camp, and thus helping it operate, was enough to convict someone as an accessory to the murders committed there even if there was no evidence of involvement in a specific killing.


At the original trial in Lueneburg in northern Germany, presiding Judge Franz Kompisch said Groening was part of the “machinery of death,” helping the camp function and also collecting money stolen from the victims to help the Nazi cause.