Germany’s highest court denied an appeal on Friday from 96-year-old Oskar Gröning to suspend his prison sentence on health grounds.
Known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” Gröning was convicted of aiding and abetting the murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz concentration camp and sentenced to serve four years in prison.
Gröning will serve his sentence at a prison in the northern state of Lower Saxony where elderly prisoners can be cared for.
His lawyers had argued that the prison term would violate his right to life.
The judges on Constitutional Court wrote in their decision that carrying out Gröning sentence “carried a special weight” considering the crimes he was convicted of.
Kathrin Söfker, a spokeswoman with the public prosecutor’s office in Hanover, said that Gröning will now be called up on to start his sentence, saying: “That should happen soon.”
Gröning voluntarily joined the Nazi’s elite Waffen-SS at the age of 21 and was stationed at Auschwitz in 1942. He was a bookkeeper who sorted and assessed money and valuables taken from prisoners before sending it back to his superiors in Berlin.
The former SS guard told the court that he felt a “moral guilt” for serving at Auschwitz, but that he was not personally involved in any murder. He was convicted by a court in Lüneburg in 2015.
One of the last cases
Gröning’s case is one of the last criminal cases in Germany against a surviving member of the Nazi regime. An estimated 6 million prisoners, many of them Jews, perished during the Holocaust carried out under Adolf Hitler’s regime.
It was unclear which legal options, if any, remain available to delay the sentence. Should no further legal action be taken, his 96-year-old client will begin his prison sentence.
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