Jewish groups welcomed the conviction Wednesday of a former Nazi SS officer known as the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz" and urged justice authorities to maintain pressure on aging war criminals, AFP reported.
Seven decades after World War II, a German court sentenced Oskar Groening, 94, to four years in prison for accessory to the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews sent to the death camp's gas chambers in 1944.
"Albeit belatedly, justice has been done," World Jewish Congress (WJC) president Ronald Lauder said in a statement.
"Mr. Groening was only a small cog in the Nazi death machine, but without the actions of people like him, the mass murder of millions of Jews and others would not have been possible."
Lauder said that despite the passage of time and the advanced age of the defendant "there must never be impunity or closure for those who were involved in mass murder and genocide."
He called on authorities in Germany and across Europe "not to relent in the quest for bringing the perpetrators of the biggest crime in the history of mankind to justice."
The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center said it hoped Groening's conviction would "pave the way for additional prosecutions of individuals who served in death camps and the special mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen)."
"It is abundantly clear that the window of opportunity to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice will soon be closed, which makes the expedition of these cases of exceptional urgency," said the director of its Jerusalem office, Efraim Zuroff.
He urged the German government to make resources available for investigations and justice authorities to give "first priority" to such cases.
The head of Germany's 200,000-strong Jewish community, Josef Schuster, called the verdict "very important" and blasted the country's justice system for "drawing out or obstructing such cases for decades."
Schuster thanked the more than dozen elderly Auschwitz survivors who testified about the atrocities they witnessed and endured.
"The trial once again showed German society the crimes of the Shoah and that the victims are still suffering decades later," Schuster said, adding that he hoped more former Nazis would still face justice.