Accountant of Auschwitz sentenced to jail time

In possibly one of the last trials ever to bring justice to the victims of the second world war, the ‘Accountant of Auschwitz’ has been sentenced to time in prison.

The sentence against him was for being complicit in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at the infamous death camp.

94 year old Oskar Gröning was involved in processing the plundered luggage of prisoners entering the camp, and worked as bookkeeper for the SS, looking after the treasures the Nazis took from their victims.

Judge Frank Kompisch said Gröning had a “safe whitecollar job at a desk which gave you certain protection … in a machinery designed entirely for the killing of humans” that was “inhumane and all but unbearable for the human psyche.”

“Mr Gröning, don’t tell me you did not see the suffering, of course you saw it. You didn’t just look after the luggage to see that it wasn’t stolen …. [you] knew they were never going to see their luggage again.”

Survivors of Auschwitz and people who lost family to the death camp were present, including the 30 co-plaintiffs. Some were pleased with the sentence, given by Kompisch, of four years in jail.

However, 81 year old Eva Mozes Kors, one of the plaintiffs, said “His value is not sitting in jail at the age of 94. His value to society would be in speaking to students in person … so that every time he lectures he relives those experiences. As it is, in jail he doesn’t have to talk about it – he can just rot away.”

It is reportedly possible that Gröning may never see the inside of the prison though, because doctors and prosecutors need to reach a decision about his health. Aged 94, medical issues may prevent his sentence from actually being carried out.

However, as a display of justice, the case can still provide some closure to the people affected by the nightmare regime of the Nazis.