Oskar Groening Biography

Oskar Gröning, a former SS junior squad leader, played a significant role in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Responsible for overseeing prisoners’ personal belongings and handling confiscated money, he was also witness to the horrific genocides that occurred within the camp. After being transferred to a combat unit and subsequently captured by the British, Gröning spent time as a war prisoner in Britain before returning to Germany to lead a seemingly normal life. However, his views on Holocaust Denial prompted him to speak out against those who denied the genocide of Jews, confirming his involvement in the Holocaust while denying being an accomplice. These public statements ultimately led to criminal prosecution, with Gröning being charged as an accessory to the murder of over 300,000 people. At the age of 93, he faced trial in Lüneburg, Germany, where he was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison.

Quick Facts

  • German Celebrities Born In June
  • Also Known As: Oskar Gröning
  • Died At Age: 96
  • Born Country: Germany
  • War Criminals
  • German Men
  • Died on: March 9, 2018
  • Place of Death: Germany

Childhood & Early Life

Oskar Groening was born on 10 June, 1921 in Nienberg, Lower Saxony, Germany. He was the son of a textile worker and a proud nationalist. His grandfather was a soldier in the Duchy of Brunswick.

Groening grew up in a disciplined environment and was fascinated with the military from an early age.

In the 1930s, he joined the Scharnhorst, a youth organisation in Stahlhelm. In 1933, Groening joined the Hitler Youth, the youth organisation of the Nazi Party. He was influenced by the view that National Socialism would be beneficial for Germany.

In 1938, he graduated from high school and started working as a trainee bank clerk. However, he, along with seven other clerks, was recruited in the German army as soon as World War II was declared.


In 1940, Groening joined the Waffen-SS, an elite army unit, as a SS salary administrator, despite his father’s reluctance. Till 1942, he worked in this post until the desk jobs were given to injured veterans of the war.

Groening and his 22 colleagues were transferred to the commandment of Auschwitz where he was given responsibilities of handling the currencies of the deportees, sending them to Berlin, and safekeeping the private properties of the prisoners.

Groening did not know about the ‘Final Solution’ initially, but his desk job could not block him completely from the extermination processes. He complained about the cruel killings of infants and prisoners inside the camp to his superior, but his request for an organized framework was turned down twice.

In 1944, he was transferred to a front-line SS unit in the Ardennes. On 10 June 1945, the unit surrendered to the British force and he was imprisoned in an old Nazi concentration camp. In 1946, he was sent to Britain as a forced laborer where he apparently led a “very comfortable life”. In 1947, he returned to Germany and started working in a glass factory. He later became a manager at this factory.

Oskar Groening was also elected as an honorary judge of industrial tribunal cases.

Views On Holocaust Denial

More than 40 years after the war, he publicly decried the people who said that the Jews were never taken into gas chambers or murdered. Groening maintained that he was innocent and not a defendant because he never volunteered in the mass murders. He says that despite not being a perpetrator, he felt guilt towards Jews.

Criminal Charges & Trials

In September 2014, Oskar Gröning was charged by state prosecutors with assistance to murder for his administrative role at Auschwitz. The accusation stated that he was responsible for the financial advancement of Nazi Germany and systematic killing of 300,000 Jewish people who were held at Auschwitz.

On 20 April 2015, the trial was held at Lüneburg Regional Court (Landgericht). In his opening statement, Groening apologized for his role at Auschwitz in 1944. During the trial, many of the 60 ‘co-claimants’ testified that prisoners at Auschwitz were starved, tortured, and killed in gas chambers.

On 15 July 2015, Oskar Groening was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder and he was sentenced to four years of custody.


Groening had always been sensitive about the Auschwitz topic. Once, at the dinner table, his father-in-law made a silly remark about Groening’s SS career. He reacted by banging his fist on the table and declaring, “This word and this connection are never ever to be mentioned again in my presence, otherwise I’ll move out!”

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