A replica hung in place of the stolen infamous "Arbeit macht frei" sign at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland on Dec. 18, 2009.
Jacek Bednarczyk—AFP/Getty Images
September 16, 2014 6:08 PM EDT

A 93-year-old man who was once a member of Hitler’s SS unit and worked at Auschwitz has been charged by prosecutors in Germany with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for his role in perpetrating the Holocaust.

Oscar Gröning is accused of taking money from victims’ luggage as they arrived at the concentration camp and giving it to SS headquarters, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Through his activities, he provided the Nazi regime with economic advantage and supported systematic killings,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The prosecutor alleges that Gröning knew that prisoners who were deemed unfit for work at the concentration camp were automatically sent to gas chambers where they were systematically murdered.

Gröning’s case is unusual because the accused has already spoken publicly in interviews with Der Spiegel and the BBC about the role he played at Auschwitz, which amounted, he said, to adding up money taken from the primarily Jewish victims of the Third Reich. Convicting former Nazis in Germany has historically been hard, due to the difficulty of proving them guilty of specific crimes many decades in the past. The conviction in 2011 of U.S. auto worker John Demjanjuk as an accessory to nearly 30,000 murders opened the possibility to other similar prosecutions, the Journal reports.

Gröning’s attorney declined to comment on the case but said his client is in good health.

[WSJ]

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