Speed Reads

past crimes

Former Auschwitz guard, 93, accused of playing a role in 300,000 deaths

A 93-year-old former guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp has been charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder, German prosecutors announced Monday.

Oskar Groening is believed to have worked at the death camp from May to July 1944, when 425,000 Jews were brought in from Hungary. Almost immediately, more than 300,000 were killed.

Last year, German federal prosecutors began investigating Groening and about 30 other ex-Auschwitz guards, NBC News reports. Groening is believed to be in good health, and is currently not in custody. Judges in the northern German city of Lueneburg will soon decide if a court case will be opened, and if and when a trial could begin.

In a 2005 interview with Der Spiegel, Groening said he saw the crimes happening at Auschwitz, but did not participate. "Accomplice would almost be too much for me," he said. "I would describe my role as a 'small cog in the gears.' If you can describe that as guilt, then I am guilty, but not voluntarily. Legally speaking, I am innocent."