16 Jan 2018

Convicted Auschwitz guard pleads for mercy

3:21 pm on 16 January 2018

A former guard at the Auschwitz death camp has submitted a request for mercy to avoid jail in Germany.

Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening at his trial in 2015.

Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening at his trial in 2015. Photo: AFP

In 2015 Oskar Groening, 96, was given a four-year prison sentence for being accessory to murder of 300,000 Jews in the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Last year, Germany's constitutional court rejected his appeal, ruling that Groening was fit to serve his sentence.

Groening - who is known as "the bookkeeper of Auschwitz" - has admitted his "moral guilt".

During his trial, he testified that he oversaw the collection of prisoners' belongings and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin.

He was sentenced even though there was no evidence of his involvement in specific killings.

On Monday, a justice ministry spokesman in the northern Lower Saxony said Groening's plea had been passed on to prosecutors.

But Christian Lauenstein added: "A plea for clemency does not have a delaying effect such as on starting the prison sentence."

Groening - who was born in 1921 in Lower Saxony, Germany - joined the Hitler Youth and then the Waffen SS.

He worked at Auschwitz from 1942, counting money confiscated from prisoners.

He has expressed regret and spoke openly of Auschwitz experiences, saying he wanted to counter Holocaust deniers.

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