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Bookkeeper of Auschwitz appeals to German justice minister for pardon

Oskar Groening, dubbed the 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' for his role in the murder of 300,000 Jews at Auschwitz, submitted a final request for clemency to Germany's justice minister.


A 96-year-old former Auschwitz guard has launched a final, desperate bid to avoid jail.

Oskar Groening, dubbed the 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' for his role in the murder of 300,000 Jews at the Nazi death camp, submitted a final request for clemency to Germany's justice minister, the Lower Saxony ministry confirmed last night.

Groening was sentenced to four years in prison in 2015 but has yet to begin his sentence due to an ongoing legal dispute over his health.

Oskar Groening (pictured) served as a bookkeeper at Auschwitz, sorting and counting the money taken from those killed or used as slave labour, collecting cash in different European currencies, and shipping it back to his Nazi bosses in Berlin

His lawyer has repeatedly argued his age and frail health are grounds for a pardon.

A justice ministry spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that Havliza was not subject to a time limits in making the decision.

This most recent appeal with be considered by Lower Saxony's justice minister Barbara Havliza of the Christian Democratic Union party.

In January, an appeal to the Lunebeurg prosecutor's office on similar grounds was rejected.

And in December 2017, Germany's Constitutional Court rejected a petition calling for Groening's sentence to be suspended.

Groening (pictured left in the German army and right at trial in 2015)  has submitted a final request for clemency to Germany's justice minister, the Lower Saxony ministry

Groening's lawyer has argued his age and frail health are grounds for a full pardon

During his trial, Groening expressed regret over his actions at the death camp in German-occupied Poland.

But Groening not only worked in the Nazi's largest camp, he thrived there, enjoying an easy life behind a desk, filling himself with extra rations and alcohol pilfered from those sent there to die.

'It is without question that I am morally complicit in the murder of millions of Jews through my activities at Auschwitz,' he said during trial.

'Before the victims, I also admit to this moral guilt here, with regret and humility.'

Despite continued efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice, the old age and increasing weak health of perpetrators has been an impediment to prosecutors.

As many as 1.1 million people were murdered between 1940 and 1945 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp where Groening worked

In September 2017 the trial of SS medic Hubert Zafke, 95, was postponed three times after presiding Judge Klaus Kabisch determined Zafke wasn't well enough to participate based on a doctor's assessment.

He had been accused of 3,681 counts of accessory to murder.

A spokesman for the Neubrandenburg regional prosecutor's office said at the time that Zafke, 96 years old and diagnosed with dementia, was no longer able to 'reasonably assess his interests or coherently follow or give testimony.'

Among other things, the retired farmer suffered from stress, high blood pressure and suicidal thoughts, the court was told.

SS medic Hubert Zafke, 95, was three time deemed too unwell to participate in his own trial

Zafke's attorney insists his client was just a medic who did nothing criminal at Auschwitz

His charges stemmed from a one-month period in 1944 and involved the deaths of Jews who arrived on 14 train transports. Among them was Anne Frank who died later at Bergen-Belsen.

Zafke is not charged over her death.

Prosecutors allege Zafke's unit was involved in putting gas into gas chambers to kill Jews and others, screening blood and other samples from hospitalised women prisoners, and otherwise helping the camp run by treating SS guard personnel.

Some 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished between 1940 and 1945 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp before it was liberated by Soviet forces.  

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