Today started what should be one the final trials for Nazi war crimes in Lueneburg, Germany. Oskar Groening, former guard at Auschwhitz, is facing charges of accessory to the murder of about 300,000 Jews from May to June 1944.
Now 93 years old, Mr. Groening was 21 when he arrived in Auschwitz and describes his role as purely executive. Mr. Groening was repsonsible for collecting the belongings of the deportees and counting money confiscated at their arrival. The “bookkeeper” nonetheless admitted his moral guilt, which for him differs from his legal guilt. “If you can describe that as guilt, then I am guilty, but not voluntarily. Legally speaking, I am innocent,” he told Der Spiegel in 2005.
In a documentary to the BBC in 2005, Mr. Groening has decided to come forward and testify about what he witnessed in Auschwitz. His objective, he said, was to fight Holocaust deniers: “I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria.”
Charges were first brought against Mr. Groening in the 1980s, but they had to be dropped because of a lack of evidence. Following more recent jurisprudence, prosecutors now believe Mr. Groening could be convicted just for having worked at the camp. If found guilty, he could face three to 15 years in prison.