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Former Auschwitz sergeant begs for forgiveness

July 1, 2015

A trial in the district court of a former member of the SS in Germany continues. Oskar Grönig, who served in Auschwitz, says he helped the death camp function by sorting valuables seized from Jews.

Deutschland Oskar Gröning Prozess
Image: Reuters/P. Schulze

In a pre-prepared statement, read by his lawyer, 94-year-old Oskar Gröning, also known as the Bookkeeper of Auschwitz, told the Lüneberg district court that he blindly followed the instructions of Nazi officers and his obedience to the system meant he never rebelled against the atrocities that occurred at the camp.

The former SS sergeant, who is charged with aiding in the mass murder of 300,000 victims in the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland, says his role was to sort cash and valuables taken from Jews after their arrival.

The statement read on Gröning's behalf said, "I can only ask God for my forgiveness."

The German legal system does not allow for pleas to be entered into, but at the opening of his trial in April on 300,000 counts of being an accessory to murder, Gröning said he felt a moral guilt for what he had done.

If convicted, Gröning faces a possible three to 15 years in jail.

jlw/jil (epd, AP, dpa)