[JURIST] Oskar Groening, a former Auschwitz guard, admitted in his opening statement before a court in Germany Tuesday that he shared the burden of moral guilt for his role at Auschwitz, which earned him the title, “Accountant of Auschwitz,” but left it to the judges to determine if his actions were sufficient to be convicted as an accessory to murder. Groening, now 93, collected and tallied belongings stolen from people entering Auschwitz from 1942-44. He is charged [JURIST report] with 300,000 counts of accessory murder for supporting the Nazi efforts economically and processing the belongings of the victims. The court ruling will determine if anyone stationed at the Nazi death camp is complicit in the atrocities that took place there. If found guilty, Groening faces a maximum of 15 years in prison [Reuters report].
Despite the age of the accused, the Nazi crime investigation unit [official website, in German] is dedicated to prosecuting the few remaining living Nazi war criminals who have escaped justice. There are currently 11 other proceedings taking place against former Nazi officers on charges of accessory to murder. In December a German court threw out a case [JURIST report] against a former SS soldier who was accused of being involved in the largest massacre in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. In 2013 German prosecutors brought a 92-year-old former Nazi to trial whose case was subsequently dropped [JURIST reports] in January due to too many gaps in the evidence. January marked the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] stated [JURIST report] that the world is still haunted by the tragic events of the Holocaust and continued discrimination.