'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' may get just 20 months' jail
Prosecutors in the trial of Oskar Gröning have called for the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" to serve three-and-a-half years in jail - but it has emerged that he could serve less than half of that due to delays in bringing the case to trial.
State prosecutor Jens Lehmann asked yesterday that the 94-year-old former SS guard, who is on trial as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews, receive a three-and-a-half year jail sentence.
He said his sentencing request was based on the "nearly incomprehensible number of victims" but was mitigated by "the limited contribution of the accused" to their deaths.
But Mr Lehmann requested that the delay in prosecuting him be taken into account, so that Gröning should be considered as having already served up to 22 months in jail, reported German newspaper the 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung'.
That is because when a person has been living for a long time under the threat of prosecution, the experience of living under the pressure means they can be considered as having already served time, a spokesman for the Hamburg public prosecutor said.
As a result, Gröning may end up spending only a year and eight months in prison if found guilty and if the judge accepts the proposal from the state prosecutor.
Investigations against Grön-ing had already begun in 1977, but charges were only brought last year.
Gröning could face a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison.
He has acknowledged "moral guilt" during his trial at the regional court in Lüneburg, but has said it is up to the court to rule on his legal culpability.
Gröning said he had no right to ask for forgiveness.
He has said he was not personally involved in the killing of Jews, but admitted he played a part in the Nazi machinery.
Gröning's health has visibly deteriorated in recent weeks, and last Thursday the hearing was brought to a standstill because he did not show up because of his failing health.
The presiding judge said that Gröning had suffered "significant health problems" the day before.
Defending lawyers requested that proceedings take place just one day per week.
A judgment is expected at the end of July.
A junior SS guard at Auschwitz, Gröning was responsible for inspecting the luggage of arriving prisoners and sending any money found to Berlin to fund the Nazi war effort.
The trial, which began in April and has 70 co-plaintiffs, has seen survivors of the Holocaust testifying at his trial, with one of them hugging the defendant in a historic gesture of reconciliation.
Eva Mozes Kor, an 81-year-old Jew who lost her parents and older sisters at Auschwitz in 1944, embraced Gröning after testifying against him, and had earlier told that court that she had now forgiven "all the Nazis".
She angered her co-plaintiffs when she said on television that the case should not have come to court, with 49 of her co-plaintiffs later releasing a statement distancing themselves from her comments. (© Daily Telegraph London)