© The Associated Press FILE - In this July 15, 2015 file photo SS sergeant Oskar Groening listens to the verdict of his trial at a court in Lueneburg, northern Germany. German prosecutors say Wednesday, Aug. 2…BERLIN — A 96-year-old former Auschwitz death camp guard who was convicted as an accessory to murder is fit to go to prison, German prosecutors said Wednesday. His lawyer said he will contest their decision.
Oskar Groening was convicted in July 2015 of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews and sentenced to four years in prison. In November, a federal court rejected his appeal.
Groening has remained free pending the appeal and a decision on his fitness for prison. On Wednesday, Kathrin Soefker, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Hannover, told the news agency dpa they have rejected a defense application for a reprieve on serving the sentence.
Railway tracks lead to the infamous 'Death Gate' at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. A network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, Auschwitz I and the nearby Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp were where an estimated 1.1 million people, mostly Jews from across Europe, were killed. In 2015, 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet soldiers, survivors of one of the darkest chapters in history recounted their ordeals. Their stories follow:
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Eva Behar poses in her home on December 1, 2014 in London.
As the Russians approached Poland the Nazis saw the end of the war coming and on January 1, 1945, Eva was sent from Auschwitz to Bergen, where she was eventually liberated by the British. Right, Eva Behar shows her camp number tattoo.
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Janos Forgacs, 87, holds a document as he poses for a portrait in Budapest on January 12, 2015.
Forgacs recalls that he was in a group transported to a camp in a cattle wagon, with the windows sealed with barbed wire. A military officer told them to hand over their belongings, telling them they would not need them anymore.
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Elzbieta Sobczynska (maiden name Gremblicka), 80, who was registered with camp number 85536, holds her father's watch, which was kept by her brother while they were in the camp, as she poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 7, 2015.
During the Warsaw Uprising, when Sobczynska was 10 years old, she was sent with her mother and brother from their home to a camp in Pruszkow and then moved by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There they were separated into blocks for women, girls and boys. Sobczynska said that she was robbed of her childhood, and lost the chance to experience a different kind of life.
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Alexander Riseman, aged 88, poses in his London home on December 1, 2014. He is holding a photograph of himself with his late wife Freda.
As a child, Riseman and his family were sent to Auschwitz from their home in Poland, and were eventually liberated by the Russian forces. Right, A photograph of Riseman (third on the left) on a train, two days before the end of the war.
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Eva Fahidi, 90, holds a picture of her family, who were all killed in the concentration camp, as she poses for a portrait in Budapest on January 12, 2015.
Fahidi was 18 in 1944 when she and her family were moved from Debrecen to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
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Josef Perl, aged 84, poses in his London home on December 3, 2014.
Josef Perl was imprisoned in Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Gross-Rosen, Balkenhain, Hirschberg and Buchenwald concentration camps. He has spent twenty years of his life educating people about the horrors of the Holocaust and the lessons to be learnt.
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Jadwiga Bogucka (maiden name Regulska), 89, who was registered with camp number 86356, poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 12, 2015.
During the Warsaw Uprising in August, 1944, when Bogucka was 19, she and her mother were sent from their house to a camp in Pruszkow and then moved on August 12, 1944 by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. They were liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. Right, Bogucka holds a picture of herself from 1944.
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Marian Majerowicz, 88, who was registered with camp number 157715, poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 13, 2015.
Originally from Myszkow, Majerowicz was 17 when he was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. At the camp he was briefly reunited with his father, who told him that his mother and younger brother were both killed in the gas chambers. Majerowicz's father didn't survive the war.
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Susan Pollock, aged 84, poses in her London home on December 1, 2014.
Pollock was transported from her home in Hungary to Auschwitz, where her mother was immediately taken from her and sent to the gas chambers. Susan was subjected to hard slave labour until she was eventually forced to walk to Belsen in the bitterly cold winter and later liberated by British forces.
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Bogdan Bartnikowski, 82, who was registered with camp number 192731, holds a family photograph as he poses for a portrait in Warsaw on December 18, 2014.
Bartnikowski was 12 years old during the Warsaw Uprising, when he and his mother were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. They were moved between camps several times. After the war Bartnikowski worked as a pilot and then became a journalist and writer.
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Danuta Bogdaniuk-Bogucka (maiden name Kaminska), 80, poses for a portrait in Warsaw January 5, 2015.
Bogdaniuk-Bogucka was 10 years old when she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp with her mother. Bogdaniuk-Bogucka was part of Josef Mengele's experiments when she was in Auschwitz. After the war she met her mother again and they discovered they had both been at Ravensbruck camp at the same time, but never encountered each other.
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Jacek Nadolny, 77, who was registered with camp number 192685, poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 7, 2015.
Nadolny was seven during the Warsaw Uprising, when he was sent with his family to Auschwitz-Birkenau by train. In January 1945 the family was moved to a labour camp in Berlin. Right, Nadolny holds up a wartime photo of his family.
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Edith Baneth, aged 88, poses in her London home on December 1, 2014.
Baneth was a prisoner in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.
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Henryk Duszyk, 80, who was registered with camp number 192692, poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 12, 2015.
Duszyk was 10 years old during the Warsaw Uprising in August, 1944. He was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau with his father, brother and stepmother. The family were separated and Duszyk only saw his father once more before he was killed at the camp. Duszyk, his brother and stepmother were kept at Auschwitz-Birkenau until the camp was liberated.
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Halina Brzozowska, 82, who was registered with camp number 86356, holds a picture of herself which was taken during the war, as she poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 12, 2015.
Brzozowska was 12 years old during the Warsaw Uprising when her family were sent to a camp in Pruszkow. She and her 6-year-old sister were then moved by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Brzozowska said that it was hard to say what had happened to them, that they were taken from their homes, family and lost their childhood.
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Stefan Sot, 83, who was registered with camp number 192705, holds a picture of himself taken during the war, as he poses in Warsaw on January 5, 2015.
Sot was 13 years old during the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, when he was sent from his home to a camp in Pruszkow prior to being transported by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. He was later moved to a labour sub-camp, where he worked in a kitchen for S.S. officers. After the war he worked as a typesetter at a printing house.
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Janina Reklajtis, 80, who was registered with camp number 83043, holds a photo of herself taken during the war as she poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 7, 2015.
Reklajtis was 12 years old during the Warsaw Uprising when she and her mother were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. They were sent to a labour camp in Berlin in January 1945 and were kept there until they were liberated.
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Laszlo Bernath, 87, holds up a picture of his family, who were all killed in the concentration camp during World War Two, as he poses for a portrait in Budapest on January 12, 2015.
Bernath credits his survival of Auschwitz to his father being a practical man. He was 15 when they were taken but his father told him to lie about his age so that they would not be separated. Even while in the camp, Bernath had no idea about the gas chambers.
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Erzsebet Brodt, 89, holds a picture of her family, who were killed in the concentration camp during World War Two, as she poses for a portrait in Budapest on January 12, 2015.
Brodt was 17 when she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau along with her family. Remembering the journey to the camp, she said that those who were "sick or about to give birth were forced out and put into one wagon. When the wagon was opened in Auschwitz we saw that everyone was dead inside."
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Imre Varsanyi, 86, holds up a photo of fellow survivors during World War Two, as he poses for a portrait in Budapest on January 12, 2015.
Varsanyi was 14 when he and his family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was the only member of his family to survive. After the war Varsanyi did not talk about Auschwitz for 60 years because he felt ashamed of having come through the war alive.
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Maria Stroinska, 82, holds a family photo taken before the war, as she poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 12, 2015.
Stroinska was 12 during the Warsaw Uprising, when she and her sister were sent from their house to a camp in Pruszkow before she was moved alone by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
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Jerzy Ulatowski, 83, who was registered with camp number 192823, poses for a photo in Warsaw on January 12, 2015.
Ulatowski was taken by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau when he was 13. In January 1945 he managed to escape with his family, as there was a lack of power in the barbed wire surrounding the camp.
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Susan Kluger, aged 89, poses in her home in London on December 1, 2014.
Accompanied by her mother, Helen, and her 13-year-old sister, Lilian, Kluger was taken to Auschwitz in 1944. While she was chosen for hard labour, her sister and mother died in the camp's gas chambers.
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Zofia Wareluk, 70, poses for a portrait in Warsaw on January 12, 2015.
Wareluk was born in Auschwitz two weeks before the camp was liberated. Her mother was sent to Auschwitz when she was four months pregnant.
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Barbara Doniecka, 80, who was registered with camp number 86341, holds up a wartime photo of herself as she poses for a photograph in Warsaw on January 12, 2015.
Doniecka was 12 during the Warsaw Uprising when she was sent to Pruszkow camp. She was then sent by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
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Rene Salt, aged 85, poses in her home on December 3, 2014 in London.
Salt was imprisoned in Auschwitz concentration camp at the age of 14.
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Sam Pivnik, aged 88, poses in his home on December 1, 2014 in London.
When Pivnik was 14, he and his family were forced to march to Auschwitz by the Nazis. While Pivnik survived, his father, mother, sisters Chana and Handel and younger brothers Meir, Wolf and Josef all died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Photo gallery by photo services
She said a doctor considers Groening fit to go to prison so long as there is appropriate medical care. There has been no formal summons yet for him to start serving his sentence.
Groening's lawyer, Hans Holtermann, said he would ask a court in Lueneburg to review the decision. If it deems Groening fit to serve time, he added, an appeal to a higher court would be possible.
Holtermann said he doesn't consider Groening fit to go to prison, and said the doctor hadn't physically examined his client.