'Auschwitz book-keeper' Groening sentenced to four years

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BERLIN. KAZINFORM - A German court has convicted a 94-year-old former guard at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz of being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews, BBC News reports.

Oskar Groening, known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz", was sentenced to four years in prison. He was responsible for counting the belongings confiscated from prisoners and had admitted "moral guilt". His lawyers said he did not facilitate genocide, but prosecutors argued that he had helped the camp run smoothly. Many observers have questioned whether Mr Groening will ultimately be sent to jail, given his advanced age. He is expected to be one of the last Nazis to face a courtroom. The trial was held in the northern German city of Lueneburg, hearing testimony from several people who had survived the death camp. The case revolved around the question of whether people who had played a minor role in the Nazi-ordered genocide but had not actively killed any Jews could still be guilty of a crime. Mr Groening had publicly discussed his role at Auschwitz, making him unusual among former Nazis brought to trial. He said he was speaking out in order to silence those who deny the Holocaust took place. "I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria," he told the BBC in the 2005 documentary Auschwitz: the Nazis and the "Final Solution". "I was on the ramp when the selections [for the gas chambers] took place." More than one million people, most of them European Jews, died between 1940 and 1945 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

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