German court upholds conviction of Auschwitz guard

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 28, 2016 at 9:04 AM
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BERLIN, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A German federal court upheld the conviction of former Nazi death camp sergeant Oskar Groening as an accessory to murder Monday.

Groening, 95, appealed his four-year sentence after he was convicted in 2015, but the Federal Court of Justice, Germany's highest court, ruled against him in an unprecedented decision. It was the first time a conviction was upheld in a case in which it was argued that simply serving at a death camp was adequate evidence for conviction. The verdict sets a precedent for any future cases against those accused of similar crimes; at least eight potential defendants are still alive.

At Groening's original trial in Lueneburg, Germany, Judge Franz Kompisch said Groening was part of the "machinery of death" at the Nazi camp in Auschwitz, Poland, and also stole money from victims, although no evidence was presented that tied him directly to any deaths. Groening was convicted and sentenced for being an accessory to murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz during World War II.

At the trial, Groening admitted only to gathering money and valuables found in the luggage of the death camp victims and turning the property over to his superior officers. He asked for forgiveness and spoke openly of his experiences at the death camp, saying his testimony would stand in opposition to Holocaust deniers.

It is unknown if Groening is healthy enough to be jailed.

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