Auschwitz guard Reinhold Hanning, who was convicted of accessory to 170,000 murders last June, has died at age 95 without going to prison.
Hanning died on Tuesday, according to his attorney Andreas Scharmer. He was appealing his conviction, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison, so he had not yet gone to jail, The Associated Press reported.
His lawyer said that he died before his conviction became legally binding, Reuters reported. No cause of death was reported.
The former guard had apologized for his service at Auschwitz even though he never killed anyone himself, the AP reported.
“I am ashamed that I saw injustice and never did anything about it, and I apologize for my actions,” he said. “I am very, very sorry.”
His conviction came after a 2011 legal precedent of holding anyone who helped a concentration camp function responsible for deaths that occurred there, Reuters reported. Last November, Germany’s highest court rejected an appeal by “bookkeeper of Auschwitz” Oskar Groening for his conviction as accessory to 300,000 counts of murder.
Hanning joined the Hitler Youth in 1935 with his class at age 13, then volunteered for the Waffen SS at his stepmother’s urging, the AP reported. When he was wounded in battle in 1941, he was sent to work at Auschwitz.
Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff said that the significance of the convictions don’t hinge solely on punishment, but that “if punishment is never a component it does weaken the message,” the AP reported.
During his trial, Hanning said that he had never told anyone, even his family, about his wartime service, and that “Auschwitz was a nightmare” he has tried to forget, the AP said.