A court in Germany sentenced former Nazi officer Oskar Groening, known as “the bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” to four years in prison on Wednesday.
Groening, 94, was found guilty by the Lueneburg court of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland during World War II.
The charges against Groening related to a period between May and July 1944 when hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary were brought to the complex. Most were immediately gassed to death.
Groening has testified that he guarded prisoners’ baggage after they arrived at Auschwitz and collected money stolen from them. Prosecutors said that amounts to helping the death camp function.
“In deciding the penalty, the court in particular considered the plaintiff’s age and that he should have a chance to spend some part of his life in freedom after serving his sentence,” a court statement said.
But the court did not accept that Groening deserved a lighter sentence, since he did not help clarify other possible crimes committed by other SS members he knew, the statement said.
Groening’s trial began in April, at which point he acknowledged being “morally complicit” in what happened at the camp, where more than 1 million Jews died.