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'Auschwitz bookkeeper': calls for more jail time

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'Auschwitz bookkeeper': calls for more jail time
Auschwitz survivor Hedy Bohm (l) and her daughter in the courtroom in Lüneburg on Wednesday. Photo: DPA
11:55 CEST+02:00
Plaintiffs in the trial of 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' Oskar Gröning have criticized state prosecutors after they asked the court to sentence him to three and a half years in jail, saying that the punishment would be too lenient.

If he served the full time, it would mean just “six minutes and thirteen seconds for every human life,” Christoph Heubner, vice-presdent of the Auschwitz Survivors' Organization, said.

Gröning is accused of complicity in 300,000 murders at the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where he registered inmates' possessions as they disembarked from trains.

“The level of the requested punishment doesn't even symbolically conform to the purpose of the trial and must leave a bitter taste in the mouths of survivors,” Heubner added.

He went on to say that the survivors' complaint isn't about the number of days that the 94-year-old defendant might end up spending behind bars – as witnesses have repeatedly made clear in their testimony.

“It's much more about the fact that the defendant acknowledges his responsibility and his guilt in the crimes at Auschwitz. Even if a judgement against Gröning comes decades too late, it helps to soothe the trauma of the survivors.”

Lawyer Cornelius Nestler told the court in Lüneburg, Lower Saxony, that there had always been the possibility of sentencing low-ranking accomplices in the Holocaust with complicity in murder – but that justice had failed survivors for decades.

Christoph Rückel, lawyer for another plaintiff, agreed that the three and a half year request was “unacceptable”, although he did not name a higher sentence.

But the plaintiffs' representatives agreed that the trial had been of great value, with Rückel saying it had a “huge significance” for the witnesses.

“The victims have got their faces back,” he said.

Plaintiff Judith Kalman said in her testimony that she was glad that in Gröning, perpetrators had been given a face as well, compared with the many who had disappeared into anonymity.

More of the plaintiffs' lawyers will address the court on Tuesday.

It is not yet known whether Gröning's defence lawyers will plead next week and when exactly a sentence will be passed.

SEE ALSO: Auschwitz trial: Prosecutors seek 3-1/2 year sentence

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