Aged German Auschwitz Guard to Stand Trial

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A woman holds a flower on August 2, 2014 at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the former Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim.Credit: AFP

A 93-year-old German man who worked as an SS guard at Auschwitz will stand trial in Germany in a few months on charges of involvement in the murder of 300,000 people.

A court in Linburg, Lower Saxony, ruled on Tuesday that sufficient evidence had been gathered against Oskar Groning to go to trial. Groning was tasked with collecting and documenting the money stolen from prisoners murdered in the camp.

Groning has admitted in the past to being a guard at Auschwitz in 1944 and witnessing the atrocities. “I saw the crematorium, I was there,” he said in an interview, in which he also came out against Holocaust denial. However, he denied taking part in any of the crimes that took place there.

The prosecution claims, however, that he helped the Nazi regime to earn money and support genocide. Roughly 50,000 Holocaust survivors and their families joined in the lawsuit.

Groning has been released to his home pending the start of his trial, which is expected to be in April.

He was one of roughly 30 Germans targeted recently by the Central German Office for Investigating Nazi Crimes, which has declared a special operation to bring low-ranking operatives to trial before they die. Despite the extensive effort put into identifying 70-year-old evidence, the operation has largely been a failure. Some suspects have passed away, while others were found unable to stand trial or released for various reasons.

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