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100-year-old Nazi SS guard to stand trial for 3,000+ counts of accessory to murder

A 1930 portrait of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images/TNS)
August 02, 2021

The trial of a 100-year-old man charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder for allegedly serving as a Nazi SS guard at a concentration camp near Berlin during World War II will begin in early October, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

While the man’s name wasn’t released due to German privacy laws, he purportedly worked at the Sachsenhausen camp from 1942 to 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing.

According to authorities, the suspect is able to stand trial despite his old age, but the number of hours court is held each day may be limited.

“A medical evaluation confirms that he is fit to stand trial in a limited way,” court spokeswoman Iris le Claire said.

In 2019, special federal prosecutors whose aim is to investigate Nazi-era war crimes gave the Neuruppin office the case. The state court is in the town of Oranienburg, near the location of Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

The suspect reportedly lives in Brandenburg outside of Berlin.

Established north of Berlin in 1936, Sachsenhausen became the first camp under SS control after Adolf Hitler gave the troops complete control of the Nazi concentration camp system. Sachsenhausen was largely a training facility for the larger network of camps built throughout Europe.

During its nine years in existence, Sachsenhausen saw over 200,000 prisoners, including tens of thousands who died of starvation, disease, forced labor and other causes. The inmates were also subjected to medical experiments and extermination operations like mass shootings, hangings and asphyxiation via gas.

The number of prisoners who died in the camp is unclear, but the estimates range from 50,000 to nearly 100,00 people. Early on, the majority of those held in the camp were political prisoners or criminal prisoners, but some were detained for being Jehovah’s Witnesses or homosexuals.

The first large group of Jewish people was gathered and brought to the camp in 1938 after Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, in which a massive riot aimed at exterminating Jewish people raged across Nazi Germany, leaving Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues smashed into pieces.

The camp was eventually expanded to house Soviet prisoners of war, and by 1942, most of the remaining Jewish prisoners were transferred to Auschwitz death camp. In April 1945, Sachsenhausen was liberated by the Soviets.

In a separate case, a 96-year-old woman will also stand trial in Germany later this year for allegedly working as a secretary for the SS commandant of the Stutthof concentration camp. She is charged with over 10,000 counts of accessory to murder.