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Oskar Groening, 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,' Admits Moral Guilt at Trial

Image: Oskar Groening, 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,' Admits Moral Guilt at Trial
(Philipp Schulze/Pool/Reuters)

By    |   Thursday, 02 Jul 2015 10:56 AM

Oskar Groening, a former Nazi SS officer who is often referred to as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz," admitted his guilt Wednesday during a trial in Lueneburg, Germany, in which he is charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.

Groening, 94, said in a statement read by one of his attorneys that he did not have legal culpability but he had a "moral guilt" for the deaths, according to The Local.

Groening said that he wanted to express "humility and guilt before the survivors and victims' families."

Groening said he "shared guilt for the Holocaust, although my part was small," The Local reported. "In view of the scale of the crimes committed in Auschwitz and in other places, I do not believe I am entitled to make such a request. I can only ask my Lord God for forgiveness."

Groening's trial began in April in the town near Hamburg. He could serve 15 years in prison if he is found guilty, according to The Local.

The New York Times reported that while two other Germans in their 90s have been accused with related crimes while they served in Nazi death camps, their health will make it difficult for them to stand a similar trial.

"Perhaps it was the habit of accepting facts as they appeared, in order to process them later," Groening said in his statement in an attempt to explain his involvement in the atrocities at Auschwitz. "Or perhaps it was also the comfort of obedience with which we were raised, and which did not allow for protests."

One witness who testified against him, 84-year-old Irene Weiss, said that she could not forgive Groening for what he did, according to The Times.

"He has said that he does not consider himself a perpetrator, but merely a small cog in a machine," Weiss said. "But if he were sitting here today wearing his SS uniform, I would tremble, and all the horror that I experienced as a 13-year-old would return to me."

"Any person who wore that uniform in that place represented terror and the depths to which humanity can sink, regardless of what function they performed," she continued.

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Oskar Groening, a former Nazi SS officer who is often referred to as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz," admitted his guilt Wednesday during a trial in Lueneburg, Germany, in which he is charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.
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2015-56-02
Thursday, 02 Jul 2015 10:56 AM
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