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MAINZ, Germany — A 93-year-old former Auschwitz guard will face trial next year on 300,000 charges of complicity to murder, a northern German court ruled on Tuesday. Oskar Groening has spoken openly in interviews about his time as an SS guard at Hitler's infamous death camp in occupied Poland, but insisted he only witnessed atrocities and did not committ any crimes.
The state court in Lueneburg confirmed that Groening will stand trial as early as April for the charges, which relate to the period between May 16 and July 11, 1944. Court spokesman Volker Koenig told NBC News that 49 Holocaust survivors and victims' families will join the case as "co-plaintiffs." Groening was not deemed to be a flight risk and has been allowed to remain at his home pending trial.
The charges come after years of meticulous investigation by prosecutors and Nazi hunters in the southern city Ludwigsburg, who have been sifting through documents related to at least 30 suspected Auschwitz guards believed to be living in Germany. Many of the suspects have died or been declared unfit for trial.