Oskar Gröning: Former Auschwitz Guard Charged In 300,000 Deaths

Oskar Gröning, 93, is facing 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. The former Auschwitz guard admittedly worked at the infamous death camp between May and June 1944. Within those two months, more than 425,000 Hungarian Jews were captured and transported to the camp. An estimated 300,000 were killed within the first weeks.

Gröning, who remains in good health, admits working at Auschwitz. However, he denies actively participating in the killings. As reported by Spiegel Online, Gröning was initially hired as a bookkeeper.

Each day, thousands of Jews arrived at Auchwitz via train. Upon arrival, they were forced to surrender their money and belongings.

As an “inmate money” administrator, Oskar Gröning was tasked with counting cash — which was confiscated from the detainees. He was later assigned to ramp duty. As the prisoners left the trains, Gröning helped collect, and guard, their luggage.

Gröning said he was unaware of the mass killings — until he started working at the camp. Although he asked for a transfer, he was reminded that he “signed a letter of commitment.” It took time, but Gröning eventually accepted his involvement in the killings.

“… unfortunately, it just happens to be the case that they took me, Oskar Gröning, to this camp… And then, at some point you are there and the only thing left is the feeling: I am part of this necessary thing. A horrible thing — but necessary.”

The former guard avoided capture and prosecution for seventy years. At the age of 93, he is now charged in the deaths of 300,000 detainees. Gröning is among 30 former death camp guards who are under investigation for their involvement in the Holocaust.

As reported by NBC News, the charges against Oskar Gröning were filed by federal prosecutors in Germany. Although Gröning admits working at the camp, and witnessing mass murder, he believes he is innocent.

“Accomplice would almost be too much for me… 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.”

Although the charges were filed, it is unclear whether the former Auschwitz guard will face a trial. The decision rests with judges in Lueneburg. Prosecutors have determined that Gröning is at least partially responsible for 300,00 deaths. It was also decided that he is fit to stand trial.

Until the judges determine his fate, Oskar Gröning remains a free man.

[Images via BlogSpot]