Ex-guard dubbed 'Accountant of Auschwitz' reportedly dies before serving prison sentence

Ex-guard dubbed 'Accountant of Auschwitz' reportedly dies before serving prison sentence

Groening was convicted in Lueneburg in 2015 as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews.

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 was convicted and sentenced for being an accessory to murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz during World War II.

One million European Jews died between 1940 and 1945 at Auschwitz before it was liberated by Soviet forces.

Germany's constitutional court ruled in late December that he must serve out his sentence, rejecting defenders' argument that imprisonment at such an advanced age would violate his "right to life".

It was unclear when Groening would have begun his prison sentence. "Groening was only a small cog in the Nazi death machine, but without the actions of people like him, the mass murder of millions of Jews and others would not have been possible".

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Groening admitted he was morally guilty for the work he carried out at Auschwitz. On his first day on the ramp where Jewish prisoners exited the trains, he saw an SS colleague grab a crying baby and slam its head against a truck until it was quiet.

"This is the only time I participated in a gassing", he added, before correcting himself: "I don't mean participated, I mean observed".

"It's very clear that I am morally guilty for the murders and I acknowledge that guilt here today with remorse", he said at his trial.

As of the time of his death at a German hospital on Friday, according to the weekly Der Spiegel, there had been no response to a formal "request for mercy" filed in January in a last-ditch bid to avoid jail.

"If you are convinced that the destruction of Judaism is necessary, then it no longer matters how the killing takes place", he said, describing his feelings as a young SS officer.

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