A London-based Holocaust survivor has said the death of former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp guard Oskar Groening “does not alter the fact of his moral responsibility”.
Groening, 96, dubbed the “accountant of Auschwitz”, was convicted in Lueneburg in 2015 as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews, but died before he could begin serving his four-year sentence.
Susan Pollack, who was sent with her family to Auschwitz-Birkenau in late May 1944, testified against Groening.
She told Jewish News: “His death does not alter the fact of his moral responsibility, which he himself acknowledged. That does not just apply to Groening but to all others who served the Nazi regime at the time.”
Hannover prosecutor Kathrin Soefker said a lawyer informed her office that Groening, died in a hospital.
The Lueneburg court concluded that although there was no evidence of involvement in a specific killing, Groening knew Jews were being slaughtered at the German death camp and supported the killings through his actions.
Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners’ belongings at Auschwitz and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin.
He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes. All his appeals were rejected, and it was only his ill health that kept him from being sent to prison in recent years.
Most recently, his lawyers made one final bid for clemency, the decision for which was still pending.
The Holocaust Educational Trust’s Karen Pollock said: “The trial and conviction of Oskar Groening sent an unequivocal message that his crimes should never be forgotten.”
Olivia Marks-Woldman, of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “We remember those who were killed and their families who live with the legacy of their devastating loss. We hope they can take some small comfort from his guilt being acknowledged and exposed to the world. ”