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"Bookkeeper Of Auschwitz" Gets Four Years In Jail For His Role In 300,000 Murders

Former concentration camp guard Oskar Groening, 94, was sentenced to four years in prison for aiding and abetting the Holocaust.

Last updated on July 15, 2015, at 10:39 a.m. ET

Posted on July 15, 2015, at 4:32 a.m. ET

Oskar Groening β€” the 94-year-old SS officer known as the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" β€” was found guilty of aiding and abetting the murders of 300,000 by a court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. He was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison.

Tobias Schwarz / Getty Images

Former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening found guilty of aiding and abetting three hundred thousand murders. Jailed for 4 yrs

Groening had been on trial since April for his involvement in the killing of deported Hungarian Jews sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp gas chambers between May and July 1944.

At the start of the trial, he conceded he was "morally guilty," but said "whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide.”

Following the verdict, a court statement said: "In deciding the penalty, the court in particular considered the plaintiff's age and that he should have a chance to spend some part of his life in freedom after serving his sentence," according to CNN.

Judge Franz Kompisch said also Groening had consciously taken a "safe desk job" in the Nazi death camp system, which was "inhumane and all but unbearable for the human psyche," the BBC reported.

Pool / Getty Images

Judge Kompisch had unexpectedly brought the verdict forward by a day, meaning many of the elderly witnesses and former prisoners were unable to travel to Launeberg in time to hear it, AFP reported.

Leon Schwartzbaum, a 94-year-old who was held in Auschwitz for two years, was able to rush to the courtroom from his home in Berlin. Speaking outside the courtroom, he told AFP: "I do not want revenge but I find it to be a fair verdict."

He added he could not forgive Groening "because 30 members of my family were murdered."

Groening's role at Auschwitz was to sort and count money taken from those killed or enslaved in the camp, collecting cash in various European currencies and sending it to Berlin, AFP said.

On Tuesday, Groening apologized in court: "No one should have taken part in Auschwitz."

"I know that. I sincerely regret not having lived up to this realization earlier and more consistently. I am very sorry."

In a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News, Karen Pollock, the Chief Executive of U.K.-based Holocaust Educational Trust said: "The conviction of Oskar GrΓΆning for his actions sends an unequivocal message that, although he may not have led or directly participated in the atrocities at Auschwitz, he was clearly an accessory to the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis.

"By being the 'bookkeeper' of Auschwitz, he assisted in and facilitated the murder of 300,000 Jewish men, women and children and it is right that he has now been held legally accountable for this."