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Auschwitz bookkeeper goes on trial in Germany

Updated: 2015-04-21 17:53

Auschwitz bookkeeper goes on trial in Germany

Defendant Oskar Groening waits for the start of his trial in a courtroom in Lueneburg April 21, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

LUENEBURG, Germany - A 93-year-old former bookkeeper at Auschwitz went on trial in Germany on Tuesday, accused by prosecutors of being an accessory in the murder of 300,000 people, though he was not involved in any actual killing at the notorious Nazi death camp.

The trial of Oskar Groening, who was 21 and by his own admission an enthusiastic Nazi when he was sent to work at Auschwitz in 1942, is significant because it may be one of the last big Holocaust trials. Seventy years after the end of World War Two very few suspected Nazi criminals are still alive.

The case is also unusual because Groening, unlike many of the other SS men and women who worked at concentration camps, has spoken openly about his time at Auschwitz in interviews, in part, he says, to counter Holocaust denial.

He has talked in detail about the horrible crimes he witnessed at the camp, but because he never killed anyone, he sees himself as legally innocent.

Groening's job at Auschwitz was to collect the belongings of deportees after they had arrived at the camp by train and already been put through a selection process that resulted in many being sent directly to the gas chambers.

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