Auschwitz bookkeeper dies before jail sentence

Auschwitz bookkeeper dies before jail sentence

Groening was only the third person to be convicted as an accessory to Nazi murders.

German prosecutor Kathrin Soefker said he died in hospital on Friday.

Prison authorities have yet to provide Groening's death certificate.

Groening, a former SS sergeant, was convicted in July 2015 of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews.

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The 96-year-old former "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" died before starting his jail sentence for participation in the Holocast, according to a Sunday report.

The Lueneburg court concluded that although there was no evidence of involvement in a specific killing, Groening knew that Jews were being slaughtered at the German death camp and supported the killings through his actions.

He had been expected to enter prison at the end of January, but the continued wrangling over the state of his health kept him from beginning to serve his sentence.

Oskar Groening as a young man in an SS uniform.

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But while he admitted witnessing individual atrocities, he did not acknowledge participating in any crimes.

At least 1.1 million people were killed in the camps at Auschwitz, the vast majority of them Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide, but also Poles, gay people, disabled people and other persecuted minorities.

Groening's role at Auschwitz rose to prominence when he gave interviews in 2005 about his work at the camp. A federal court rejected Groening's appeal in November. Most recently, his lawyers made one final bid for clemency, a decision on which still was pending.

Prisoners were transported by train to the Auschwitz death camp.

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The legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis changed in 2011 with Germany's landmark conviction of former death camp guard John Demjanjuk. He, too, died before he could begin serving his five-year-sentence.

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