A 93-year-old former SS guard on trial in Germany says that while he did watch as people were killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp, he did not have a direct role in their murders.
Known as the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" who counted the money stolen from new arrivals, Oskar Groening is on trial for being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews. If found guilty, he could face 3 to 15 years in prison. Groening spent an hour speaking to the court, giving details about his time at the camp. "I ask for forgiveness," he told the judges. "I share morally in the guilt but whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide."
Groening admitted in a 2005 BBC documentary that he saw the gas chamber and crematoria, and said he came forward in an attempt to silence Holocaust deniers. In the 1980s, charges against him were dropped because there wasn't enough evidence to show he was personally involved, but prosecutors believe under a recent ruling that the fact that he worked at Auschwitz is enough to get a conviction. "What I hope to hear is that aiding in the killing machinery is going to be considered as a crime," Auschwitz survivor Hedy Bohm told Reuters. "So then no one in the future can do what he did and claim innocence."
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