Oskar Gröning was born on 10 June 1921 in Nienburg, Germany. He joined the Hitler Youth in his early teens, and in 1940, he joined the SS, a military organisation under the Nazi Party, as a volunteer.
In October 1942, Gröning was reassigned from his role in the paymaster’s office to a role in “Inmate Money Administration” at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, Gröning’s duties included confiscating money and other valuables from prisoners before sending these items to the main administrative office of the SS headquarters in Berlin, Germany.
It is, however, alleged that in addition to this confiscation of materials, Gröning further destroyed other belongings of prisoners so that new arrivals would not see them. Through these actions, it is alleged that Gröning enabled the Nazi regime to gain economically and carry out further atrocities.
Moreover, it is alleged that Gröning, through his additional duties guarding the possessions of recent arrivals, was aware that many of the arrivals were murdered almost immediately upon arrival if deemed unfit to work.
After his service in Auschwitz, he was transferred to the front lines in late 1944 and was captured by British troops after being wounded. Until 1948, Gröning was held in a British prison. After his release, he found a job as a payroll clerk in a glass factory in Lueneberg, Germany. He remained in this position until his retirement in the 1980s.
Gröning’s case attracted attention in 2005 after he appeared in interviews in which he talked about his work in a concentration camp during the war.
Gröning passed away on 9 March 2018 at the age of 96.