Convicted 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' dies aged 96

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A former Nazi SS guard dubbed the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" has died aged 96 almost three years after his conviction for being an accessory to murder, German media said on Monday.

Groening was convicted in Lueneburg in 2015 as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews.

Hannover prosecutor Kathrin Soefker says a lawyer informed her office that Oskar Groening died Friday in a hospital.

Groening never rose above the rank of corporal and said he worked in a back-office role.

Groening previously described some of the murders that he witnessed at Auschwitz.

Groening, a former Auschwitz guard, was found guilty in 2015 for being an accessory to murder in hundreds of thousands of deaths at the concentration camp.

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At the age of 21, Groening volunteered to join the elite Waffen-SS before transferring in 1942 to work at Auschwitz, where he counted the money found among the belongings of prisoners and sent it to SS headquarters in Berlin. Initially deemed too ill for prison, he was declared fit for imprisonment in December and was scheduled to start serving his sentence soon.

He acknowledged "moral guilt" and said he was "very sorry" for his actions.

Trained as a banker, Groening told judges that he tried several times to be relocated to another post or to the front. The second was when he saw an SS soldier pour gas through a slot into a farmhouse where Jews were held.

His trial went to the heart of the question of whether people who were minor participants in the Nazi atrocities, but did not actively participate in the killing of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, were themselves guilty.

Auschwitz, the world's biggest cemetery for the number of deaths that occurred there from 1941 to 1945, included concentration, labour and extermination camps.

At least 1 million people were killed at Auschwitz concerntration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

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