Court rules 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz', 96, must go to jail

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's constitutional court has ruled that a 96-year-old German must go to jail over his role in mass murders committed at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during World War Two, refusing to overturn a lower court ruling.

Oskar Groening, known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz" for his job counting cash taken from the camp's victims, was sentenced to four years' jail in 2015, but wrangling over his health and age have delayed the start of his sentence.

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POLAND - MAY 25: Barbed wire fence and guard tower at Auschwitz concentration camp (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1979), Poland. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
POLAND - MAY 25: Barbed wire fence around Auschwitz concentration camp (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1979), Poland. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
POLAND - MAY 25: Barbed wire fence of Auschwitz concentration camp (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1979), Poland. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
POLAND - MAY 25: Barbed wire fence and guard tower at Auschwitz concentration camp (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1979), Poland. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: Life barbed wire encloses the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: Bunk beds in Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on December 17, 2009 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: General view on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: General view on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: Bunk beds in Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on December 17, 2009 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: General view on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: General view on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: Barbed wire encloses the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: General view on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: General view on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: General view on the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: Bunk beds in Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on December 17, 2009 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: Bunk beds in Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on December 17, 2009 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
BRZEZINKA, POLAND - APRIL 15: Life barbed wire encloses the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp on April 15, 2014 in Brzezinka, Poland. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the 'final solution of the Jewish question in Europe'. 1.1 million people mostly Jews from allover Europe were killed in gas chambers or from systematic starvation, forced labor, disease and purported 'medical experiments'. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/isifa/Getty Images)
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The constitutional court rejected the argument by Groening's lawyers that imprisonment at his advanced age would violate his right to life, adding that the gravity of his crimes meant there was a particular need for him to be seen to be punished.

"The plaintiff has been found guilty of being accessory to murder in 300,000 related cases, meaning there is a particular importance to carrying out the sentence the state has demanded," the judges wrote, upholding the Celle regional court's ruling.

There is no further appeal to the constitutional court's ruling. The ruling does leave open the possibility that Groening could be released if his health deteriorates.

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'Bookkeeper of Auschwtiz' Oskar Groening's trial
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'Bookkeeper of Auschwtiz' Oskar Groening's trial
Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening listens to the verdict of his trial on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists gather outside the courtroom after a verdict in the case of former SS officer Oskar Groening on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening listens to the verdict of his trial on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
LUNEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 15: Oskar Groening (C), 94, a former member of the Waffen-SS who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, is helped into court by lawyer Susanne Frangenberg (L) on July 15, 2015 in Lueneburg, Germany. Groening was accused of complicity in the murder of 300,000 mostly Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz in 1944. He worked as an accountant for the SS at Auschwitz and has admitted moral and personal responsibility for his role there. Groening has been convicted of being an accessory to murder, and sentenced to four years in prison. (Photo by Hans-Jurgen Wege - Pool/Getty Images)
Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening listens to the verdict of his trial on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
LUNEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 15: Oskar Groening, 94, a former member of the Waffen-SS who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, awaits the verdict in his trial on July 15, 2015 in Lueneburg, Germany. Groening was accused of complicity in the murder of 300,000 mostly Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz in 1944. He worked as an accountant for the SS at Auschwitz and has admitted moral and personal responsibility for his role there. Groening has been convicted of being an accessory to murder, and sentenced to four years in prison. (Photo by Hans-Jurgen Wege - Pool/Getty Images)
A convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening is helped as he leaves after the verdict in his trial on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
LUNEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 15: Oskar Groening, 94, a former member of the Waffen-SS who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, awaits the verdict in his trial alongside lawyer Hans Holtermann (R) on July 15, 2015 in Lueneburg, Germany. Groening was accused of complicity in the murder of 300,000 mostly Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz in 1944. He worked as an accountant for the SS at Auschwitz and has admitted moral and personal responsibility for his role there. Groening has been convicted of being an accessory to murder, and sentenced to four years in prison. (Photo by Hans-Jurgen Wege - Pool/Getty Images)
LUNEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 15: The joint plaintiff's lawyers Cornelius Nestler (L) and Thomas Walther (R) await the verdict in the trial of Oskar Groening, 94, a former member of the Waffen-SS who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, on July 15, 2015 in Lueneburg, Germany. Groening was accused of complicity in the murder of 300,000 mostly Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz in 1944. He worked as an accountant for the SS at Auschwitz and has admitted moral and personal responsibility for his role there. Groening has been convicted of being an accessory to murder, and sentenced to four years in prison. (Photo by Hans-Jurgen Wege - Pool/Getty Images)
Convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening listens to the verdict of his trial on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
LUNEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 15: Oskar Groening (C), 94, a former member of the Waffen-SS who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, awaits the verdict in his trial alongside lawyers Susanne Frangenberg (L) and Hans Holtermann (R) on July 15, 2015 in Lueneburg, Germany. Groening was accused of complicity in the murder of 300,000 mostly Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz in 1944. He worked as an accountant for the SS at Auschwitz and has admitted moral and personal responsibility for his role there. Groening has been convicted of being an accessory to murder, and sentenced to four years in prison. (Photo by Hans-Jurgen Wege - Pool/Getty Images)
Former prisoner of Auschwitz concentration camp and plaintiff Irene Weiss arrives for the trial of a German former SS officer known as the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' on July 1, 2015 at the courtroom at the 'Ritterakademie' venue in Lueneburg, northern Germany. German national Oskar Groening, 94, stands accused of 300,000 counts of 'accessory to murder' in the cases of deported Hungarian Jews sent to the gas chambers between May and July 1944. AFP PHOTO / RONNY HARTMANN (Photo credit should read RONNY HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former prisoner of Auschwitz concentration camp and plaintiff Hedy Bohm arrives for the trial of a German former SS officer known as the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' on July 1, 2015 at the courtroom at the 'Ritterakademie' venue in Lueneburg, northern Germany. German national Oskar Groening, 94, stands accused of 300,000 counts of 'accessory to murder' in the cases of deported Hungarian Jews sent to the gas chambers between May and July 1944. AFP PHOTO / RONNY HARTMANN (Photo credit should read RONNY HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
The joint plaintiff's lawyers Cornelius Nestler (L) and Thomas Walther (R) react during the verdict in the case of convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / POOL / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Nazi death camp officer Oskar Groening sits outside during a break of his trial on April 21, 2015 in Lueneburg, northern Germany. The 93-year-old man dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' is being tried on 'accessory to murder' charges in 300,000 cases of deported Hungarian Jews who were sent to the gas chambers, and faces up to 15 years jail. (Photo by Ronny Hatmann via AFP/Getty Images)
Oskar Groening, 93, and his lawyer Hans Holtermann are seen during the first day of his trial to face charges of being accomplice to the murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz concentration camp on April 21, 2015 in Lueneburg, Germany. Groening was an accountant with the Waffen SS and has been open about his role, claiming in interviews with media that he accepts his moral responsibility. Groening has also written an account of his experience, in what he claims is an effort to counter Holocaust revisionists. State prosecutors accuse Groening of accomplice in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews who arrived at Auschwitz in 1944. (Photo by Andreas Tamme - Pool/Getty Images)
Oskar Groening, 93, arrives for the first day of his trial to face charges of being accomplice to the murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz concentration camp on April 21, 2015 in Lueneburg, Germany. Groening was an accountant with the Waffen SS and has been open about his role, claiming in interviews with media that he accepts his moral responsibility. Groening has also written an account of his experience, in what he claims is an effort to counter Holocaust revisionists. State prosecutors accuse Groening of accomplice in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews who arrived at Auschwitz in 1944. (Photo by Andreas Tamme - Pool/Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 21, 2015 shows files ahead to a trial of former Nazi death camp officer Oskar Groening at a court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. The 93-year-old man dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' is being tried on 'accessory to murder' charges in 300,000 cases of deported Hungarian Jews who were sent to the gas chambers, and faces up to 15 years jail. Ronny Hartmann via Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture taken on April 20, 2015 shows a general view of the 'Ritterakademie' venue in Lueneburg, northern Germany. The 'Ritterakademie' is the venue of the trial against former SS guard Oskar Groening, that will start on April 21, 2015. For seven decades Oskar Groening has been haunted by memories of serving in Auschwitz, while denying ultimate responsibility for the mass murder at the Nazi death camp. From April 21, 2015, the 93-year-old faces the Lueneburg court that will decide on his guilt. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann via Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
German neo-Nazi Thomas Wulff (C) is surrounded by police as he stands in front of the venue of the trial against a former Nazi death camp officer on April 21, 2015 in Lueneburg, northern Germany. 93-year-old Oskar Groening dubbed the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' is being tried on 'accessory to murder' charges in 300,000 cases of deported Hungarian Jews who were sent to the gas chambers, and faces up to 15 years jail. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann via Pool/Getty Images)
People walk through a street of the old town of Lueneburg, northern Germany, on April 20, 2015. A trial will start in Lueneburg on April 21, 2015 against former SS guard Oskar Groening. For seven decades Oskar Groening has been haunted by memories of serving in Auschwitz, while denying ultimate responsibility for the mass murder at the Nazi death camp. From April 21, 2015, the 93-year-old faces the Lueneburg court that will decide on his guilt. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann via Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
A convicted former SS officer Oskar Groening leaves after the verdict in his trial on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists gather outside the courtroom after a verdict in the case of former SS officer Oskar Groening on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Oskar Groening, 94, sat impassively as judge Franz Kompisch said 'the defendant is found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 legally connected cases' of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Nazi SS officer Oskar Groening listens to the verdict of his trial on July 15, 2015 at court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Groening, a former SS officer known as the 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz' was sentenced to four years prison after being found guilty of accessory to murder in 300,000 connected cases of deported Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / POOL/ AXEL HEIMKEN (Photo credit should read AXEL HEIMKEN,AXEL HEIMKEN/AFP/Getty Images)
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In a 2015 court battle seen as one of the last major Holocaust trials, prosecutors said although Groening did not kill anyone himself while working at Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland, he helped support the regime responsible for mass murder by sorting bank notes seized from trainloads of arriving Jews.

Groening, who admitted he was morally guilty, said he was an enthusiastic Nazi when he was sent to work at Auschwitz in 1942, at the age of 21.

He came to attention in 2005 after giving interviews about his work in the camp in an attempt to persuade Holocaust deniers that the genocide had taken place.

Some 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust carried out under Adolf Hitler.

RELATED: See photos of Auschwitz

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Auschwitz
OSWIECIM, POLAND - JANUARY 26: Jack Rosenthal, who was born in Romania and at 14 was imprisoned at Auschwitz and other concentration camps, stands outside the former Auschwitz I concentration camp as he points to the number tatoo he received from the Nazis on January 26, 2015 in Oswiecim, Poland. International heads of state, dignitaries and over 300 Auschwitz survivors will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945 on January 27. Auschwitz was among the most notorious of the concentration camps run by the Nazis to ensalve and kill millions of Jews, political opponents, prisoners of war, homosexuals and Roma. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
At a gathering of Holocaust survivors in a Brooklyn synagogue, the music is upbeat, the memories haunting. It's been 70 years since the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, but Holocaust survivor Hy Abrams remembers his chilling conversation with a fellow prisoner on his very first day at the camp.
OSWIECIM, POLAND - JANUARY 26: Ihor Malicky, a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, walks through the former Auschwitz I concentration camp, which is now a museum, on January 26, 2015 in Oswiecim, Poland. International heads of state, dignitaries and over 300 Auschwitz survivors will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945 on January 27. Auschwitz was among the most notorious of the concentration camps run by the Nazis to ensalve and kill millions of Jews, political opponents, prisoners of war, homosexuals and Roma. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Children behind a barbed wire fence at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in southern Poland. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
A doctor (centre) of the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army, with a group of survivors at the entrance to the newly-liberated Auschwitz I concentration camp, Poland, January 1945. The Red Army liberated the camp on 27th January 1945. Above the gate is the motto 'Arbeit macht frei' ('Work brings freedom'). (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
The gates of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland, circa 1965. The sign above them is 'Arbeit Macht Frei' - 'Work Makes You Free'. (Photo by Keystone/GettyImages)
Jewish children, survivors of Auschwitz, behind a barbed wire fence, Poland, February 1945. Photo taken by a Russian photographer during the making of a film about the liberation of the camp. The children were dressed up by the Russians with clothing from adult prisoners. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
AUSCHWITZ, POLAND - JANUARY 15: A picture taken in January 1945 depicts Auschwitz concentration camp gate and railways after its liberation by Soviet troops. // Photo prise en janvier 1945 montrant la grille d'entrTe et les rails du camp de concentration d'Auschwitz aprFs sa libTration par les troupes soviTtiques. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
LUBLIN, POLAND: A pile of human bones and skulls is seen in 1944 at the Nazi concentration camp of Majdanek in the outskirts of Lublin, the second largest death camp in Poland after Auschwitz, following its liberation in 1944 by Russian troops. (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images)
Crematorium III at Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland, January 1945. A freight elevator brought up the bodies from the gas chambers, to be incinerated. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
A 15 year old russian boy, ivan dudnik, who was brought to auschwitz from his home in the orel region by the nazis, being rescued, he has gone insane from witnessing the horrors of the camp, february 1945. (Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)
Jewish children, survivors of Auschwitz, with a nurse behind a barbed wire fence, Poland, February 1945. Photo taken by a Russian photographer during the making of a film about the liberation of the camp. The children were dressed up by the Russians with clothing from adult prisoners. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Survivors of Auschwitz behind a barbed wire fence, Poland, February 1945. Photo taken by a Russian photographer during the making of a film about the liberation of the camp. The children were dressed up by the Russians with clothing from adult prisoners. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
The arrival of Hungarian Jews to Birkenau station in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland, June 1944. Between May 2nd and July 9th, more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Photo prise durant la seconde guerre mondiale de femmes et d'enfants juifs à leur arrivée par train au camp d'extermination d'Auschwitz.Picture taken during World War II of jewish women and children getting off the coaches at their arrival in Auschwitz extermination camp. (Photo credit should read STF/AFP/Getty Images)
Incinerator in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Poland. Photograph. Ca. 1943. (Photo by Votava/Imagno/Getty Images) .
Child survivors of Auschwitz show their tattooed arms, Poland, February 1945. Photo taken by a Russian photographer during the making of a film about the liberation of the camp. Children were dressed up by the Russians with clothing from adult prisoners. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
The arrival of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland, June 1944. Between May 2nd and July 9th, more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
The arrival of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland, June 1944. Between May 2nd and July 9th, more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. They are all wearing a star emblem to identify them as Jewish. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Incinerator in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Poland. Photograph. 1943. (Photo by Votava/Imagno/Getty Images) .
Survivors of Auschwitz leaving the camp at the end of World War II, Poland, February 1945. Above them is the German slogan 'Arbeit macht frei' ('Work makes one free'). Photo taken by a Russian photographer during the making of a film about liberation of the camp. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Survivors of Auschwitz behind a barbed wire fence, Poland, February 1945. Photo taken by a Russian photographer during the making of a film about the liberation of the camp. The children were dressed up by the Russians with clothing from adult prisoners. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Some of the few surviving prisoners of ausschwitz concentration camp in oswiecim, poland, 1945. (Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)
Men selected for forced labour from amongst the Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland, June 1944. Between May 2nd and July 9th, more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Separation of Prisoners at Railway Station, Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland, Circa 1944
Sign in Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland.
Entrance building and railway line of the former Auschwitz II–Birkenau concentration camp in southern Poland.
Auschwitz Memorial in Berlin, Germany at Weissensee Cemetery.
The Red Army liberated the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Artist: Anonymous
POLAND A party of orthodox Jews enter the Auschwitz Museum, formerly the Auschwitz 1 concentration camp
Auschwitz Mugshot, Mugshot of prisoner 57846 – a Frenchman. 1942. These sets of 3 photos were produced until 1942 to identify prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Early in 1943 the method of tattooing was adopted. Poland. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Auschwitz Mugshot, Mugshot of prisoner 60287 – Russian boy. 1942. These sets of three photos were produced until 1942 to identify prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Early in 1943 the method of tattooing was adopted. Poland. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Auschwitz Mugshot, Mugshot of prisoner 57846 – a Frenchman. 1942. These sets of 3 photos were produced until 1942 to identify prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Early in 1943 the method of tattooing was adopted. Poland. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Auschwitz Mugshot, Mugshot of prisoner 32557 – a gypsie (Sinti or Roma) woman. 1942. These sets of 3 photos were produced until 1942 to identify prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Early in 1943 the method of tattooing was adopted. Poland. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP children photographed by Russians who liberated the camp in January 1945
Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp at Oswiecim in Poland
World War II Auschwitz concentration camp Holocaust Germany March 1945 history historical historic Nazi German Second World War
Gas chamber at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland
Pictures of prisoners in Nazi Concentration Camp in Auschwitz Birkenau, Oswiecim Poland
Jewish Star (genuine, recovered from Auschwitz Birkenau victim)
Poland, Oswiecim, Auschwitz I concentration camp. Shoes that had belonged to victims.
Gas chambers in Nazi Concentration Camp in Auschwitz Birkenau, Oswiecim Poland
Death wall in Auschwitz concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager Auschwitz) - old photograph
POLAND - JANUARY 01: Holocaust: Selection at extermination camp Auschwitz, on the left German soldier with rows of men with Yellow Stars on their coats, in the front woman with Yellow Star. Poland. Photography. About 1944. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images) [Holocaust: Selektion an der Rampe im Vernichtungslager Auschwitz, links ein deutscher Soldat mit einer Reihe von Maennern mit Judenstern an den Maenteln, im Vordergrund eine Frau mit Judenstern. Polen. Photographie. Um 1944.]
Women are separated after their arrival in Oswiecim (Auschwitz). The SS men - armed with revolvers and sticks - force the mothers and children to the gas chambers. Ca. 1943. Photograph. (Photo by Votava/Imagno/Getty Images) .
The arrival of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland, June 1944. Between May 2nd and July 9th, more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
The arrival of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland, June 1944. Between May 2nd and July 9th, more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
A young man checks the numbers tattooed on the arms of Jewish Polish prisoners coming from Auschwitz, in Dachau concentration camp after its liberation by the US army at the end of April 1945. Himmler announced the creation of Dachau on March 20, 1933. More than 200,000 people were detained between 1933 and 1945, and 31,591 deaths were declared excluding the victims of the evacuation march in April 1945. From December 1944 a typhus epidemic spread in the camp as many convoys arrived from other evacuated camps. The US troops of General Patton entered Dachau on the 29th of April 1945. At the liberation of the camp, the US army imposed a quarantine until May 25 to control the typhus epidemic. About 2.500 people died from 29 May to 16 June 1945 according to a French Memorial Association. (FILM) AFP PHOTO/ERIC SCHWAB (Photo credit should read ERIC SCHWAB/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DAPHNE ROUSSEAU - Holocaust survivor Shoshana Colmer, 95, (R) and her son (L) eat in the shared dining room of a building housing Holocaust survivors on January 21, 2015 in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project launched in 2007 by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (Hebrew for 'a helping hand'). They call it 'Survivors' Street' - a small road in Haifa where around a hundred Holocaust survivors are living out their last days side-by-side as living witnesses of the Nazi genocide. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY THIBAULT MARCHAND A picture taken on January 23, 2015 shows Ivan Martynushkin speaking during his interview with AFP at his home in Moscow. It was silence, the odor of ashes and the boundless extent of Auschwitz that struck Soviet soldier Ivan Martynushkin when his unit arrived there in January 1945 to liberate the Nazi death camp. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DAPHNE ROUSSEAU - Holocaust survivor Shoshana Colmer, 95, poses on January 21, 2015 in her apartment that is in a building housing Holocaust survivors in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project launched in 2007 by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (Hebrew for 'a helping hand'). They call it 'Survivors' Street' - a small road in Haifa where around a hundred Holocaust survivors are living out their last days side-by-side as living witnesses of the Nazi genocide. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DAPHNE ROUSSEAU - Holocaust survivor Judith Hershkowitz, 86, shows the 80-year-old only picture she has of her decimated family on January 21, 2015 in her apartment that is in a building housing Holocaust survivors in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project launched in 2007 by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (Hebrew for 'a helping hand'). They call it 'Survivors' Street' - a small road in Haifa where around a hundred Holocaust survivors are living out their last days side-by-side as living witnesses of the Nazi genocide. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DAPHNE ROUSSEAU - Holocaust survivor Judith Hershkowitz, 86, shows her concentration camp number tattooed on her arm on January 21, 2015 in her apartment that is in a building housing Holocaust survivors in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project launched in 2007 by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (Hebrew for 'a helping hand'). They call it 'Survivors' Street' - a small road in Haifa where around a hundred Holocaust survivors are living out their last days side-by-side as living witnesses of the Nazi genocide. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DAPHNE ROUSSEAU - Holocaust survivor Judith Hershkowitz, 86, poses on her balcomy on January 21, 2015 in her apartment that is in a building housing Holocaust survivors in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project launched in 2007 by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (Hebrew for 'a helping hand'). They call it 'Survivors' Street' - a small road in Haifa where around a hundred Holocaust survivors are living out their last days side-by-side as living witnesses of the Nazi genocide. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DAPHNE ROUSSEAU - Holocaust survivor Judith Hershkowitz, 86, poses in front of a painting of her parents and pictures of members of her family born in Israel on January 21, 2015 in her apartment that is in a building housing Holocaust survivors in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project launched in 2007 by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (Hebrew for 'a helping hand'). They call it 'Survivors' Street' - a small road in Haifa where around a hundred Holocaust survivors are living out their last days side-by-side as living witnesses of the Nazi genocide. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Alison Williams)

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