Oscar Groening, 93 years old, referred to as the “accountant of Auschwitz”, told the court of the two years he spent at the camp, as he went on accused of being complicit in the genocide.
“It is without question that I am morally complicit in the murder of millions of Jews through my activities at Auschwitz,” said Mr Groening. “I ask for forgiveness. I share morally in the guilt but whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide.''
Mr Groening was responsible for collecting confiscated money and goods from all inmates at the camp, helping to fund the Nazi regime’s war effort.
The trial, the second attempt to bring him to court, has attracted international attention, with Mr Groening describing in detail the murders he witnessed at the camp.
"It is certainly not an easy trial for us," judge Franz Kompisch told the court. "This is a trial which is attracting and creating a lot of attention and setting off emotions."
When Mr Groening was first charged in September last year, the court had said in a statement,
“The accused knew that, as part of the selection process, those not chosen for work and told they were going to the showers were really going to the gas chambers where they would be put to death in an agonizing manner.”
See our earlier post: Former SS officer to stand trial for 300,000 counts of accessory murder (16 Dec 2014)