Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why an Upcoming Nazi Guard's Trial May Be One of the Last

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why an Upcoming Nazi Guard's Trial May Be One of the Last

Article excerpt

Oskar Groening, 93, has been charged with complicity to more than 300,000 counts of murder for his involvement in the Auschwitz concentration camp in the early 1940s. His trial is scheduled for next year. But as Auschwitz survivors prepare to mark the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation, Mr. Groening's trial may be one of the last attempts to prosecute those involved in the murder of more than one million Jews. Many, like Groening, are in their 90s.

At least 1,005 investigations into alleged Nazi war criminals were ongoing as of April 2013, according to Operation: Last Chance, an organization that aims to prosecute Nazi war criminals. Five hundred of these investigations are in Poland, 471 in Germany.

About 6,500 SS guards served at Auschwitz, and 49 have thus far been convicted. Groening was formally charged in September, but two other men were deemed too frail to sit trial.

In 2013, Germany recommended the prosecution of 30 alleged former Auschwitz guards, Der Spiegel reported.

At the time, however, the head of the special prosecutors' office in Ludwigsburg said, "we don't know anything about the health of those in question. It could be that only a few can really be charged."

The prosecution of Nazi concentration-camp guards began relatively recently, following the 2011 trial of a Sobibor extermination camp guard.

"As a result of this ruling, all former Nazi camp guards can be tried for their part in the genocidal mass murder -- even if they weren't directly involved in the murder," the International Business Times reported.

The guard died in jail in 2012.

In Auschwitz, Groening would sort the money that Jews surrendered, Groening told Spiegel magazine in 2005. He also guarded the Jews' luggage when they arrived at the camp. He recalled in the Spiegel interview:

"A new shipment had arrived. …

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