'Last Auschwitz Trial on Earth' Leaves Survivors Disappointed

Former Nazi accountant Oskar Groening failed to apologize yesterday
By Brownie Marie,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2015 6:30 AM CDT
At 'Last Auschwitz Trial on Earth,' ex-Nazi Seeks Mercy—God's
Former SS officer Oskar Groening, 94, sits in the courtroom in Lueneburg, Germany, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Groening is charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.   (Ronny Hartmann/Pool Photo via AP)

Former Nazi accountant Oskar Groening failed to apologize yesterday for his role in the deaths of prisoners during the Holocaust. The 94-year-old is charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for acting as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz"—collecting and sorting money from those arriving at the death camp. During his statement at the Hamburg trial, Groening distanced himself from the atrocities committed between May and July 1944, but did not absolve himself of guilt. "Even if I was not directly involved with these murders, I did, through my activities, contribute to the functioning of the Auschwitz camp," he says, according to the New York Times. "I’m aware of this."

The former SS officer previously admitted "moral guilt" and asked for forgiveness for his participation in the murders, but reversed course yesterday. "I can only ask forgiveness from the Lord," he told the courtroom, with Holocaust survivors and relatives of victims in the gallery. Thomas Walther, an attorney for the plaintiffs, was not impressed. "This is about earthly guilt, not guilt before God," he explains. "We’re not at the Last Judgment. We’re at the last Auschwitz trial on earth." Groening faces three to 15 years in prison if convicted. His trial is scheduled to end on July 29. (Read more Holocaust stories.)

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