Former Nazi guard, 101, sentenced to five years in prison

A German court sentenced the man to five years in prison.

BERLIN, Germany — A 101-year-old man was convicted in Germany on Tuesday of being an accessory to murder on more than 3,500 counts for serving at the Nazi Sachsenhausen concentration camp during World War II.

The district court in Neuruppin sentenced him to five years in prison.

The man, identified by local media as Josef S., had denied working as an SS guard at the camp and aiding and abetting the murder of thousands of prisoners.

In the trial, which opened in October, the centenarian testified that he was working as a farmhand near Pasewalk in north-eastern Germany at the time in question.

However, the court found it established that he had worked as a soldier in the paramilitary wing of the NSDAP in the camp on the outskirts of Berlin between 1942 and 1945, the German news agency dpa reported.

“The court came to the conclusion that, contrary to what you said, you worked as a guard in a concentration camp for about three years,” said presiding judge Udo Lechtermann, according to dpa. He added that the defendant thereby supported the Nazi terror and murder mechanism.

“You willingly supported this mass extermination with your work,” said Lechtermann. “Every day for three years you watched how deported people were cruelly tortured and murdered.”

The public prosecutor’s office had based their case on documents from an SS guard with the name, date and place of birth of the man and other documents.

The five-year prison sentence corresponded to the demand of the public prosecutor’s office.

The defendant’s lawyer had applied for an acquittal. Defense attorney Stefan Waterkamp said after the verdict was announced that he would appeal against the verdict, dpa reported.

Germany’s leading Jewish group welcomed the verdict.

“Even if the accused is unlikely to serve the full prison sentence due to his advanced age, the verdict is to be welcomed,” said Josef Schuster, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“The thousands of people who worked in the concentration camps kept the killing machinery going. They were part of the system, so they should take responsibility for it,” Schuster added. “It is bitter that the accused denied his work at the time to the last and showed no remorse.”

For practical reasons, the trial took place in a high school in Brandenburg/Havel, where the 101-year-old lives. The man only had limited ability to stand trial and was only able to take part in the hearing for around two and a half hours a day. The process was interrupted several times for health reasons and hospitalizations.

Efraim Zuroff, the lead Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, told The Associated Press that the verdict “sends a message that if you commit crimes like this, you could face trial even decades later.” “.

“And it’s a very important cause because it gives closure to the victims’ families,” Zuroff added. “The fact that these people suddenly feel that their loss and the plight of their families that they lost in the camps are being addressed is a very important thing.”

However, Zuroff expressed the fear that S. could only serve part of the sentence or no sentence at all because of his planned appeal and his advanced age.

Sachsenhausen was established north of Berlin in 1936 as the first new site after Adolf Hitler gave the SS full control of the Nazi concentration camp system. It was intended to be a model facility and training camp for the labyrinthine network the Nazis were building across Germany, Austria and the occupied territories.

More than 200,000 people were held there between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of prisoners died from starvation, disease, forced labor and other causes, as well as from medical experiments and systematic extermination actions by the SS, including shootings, hangings and gassings.

Exact numbers of those killed vary, with upper estimates at around 100,000, although scholars suggest figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are probably more accurate.

In the early years, most inmates were either political prisoners or convicts, but there were also some Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. The first large group of Jewish prisoners was brought there in 1938 after the so-called Kristallnacht, an anti-Semitic pogrom.

During the war, Sachsenhausen was expanded to include Soviet prisoners of war, who were shot by the thousands.

As in other camps, Jewish prisoners in Sachsenhausen were treated particularly harshly, and most who survived until 1942 were sent to the Auschwitz death camp.

Sachsenhausen was liberated by the Soviets in April 1945, who then turned it into a brutal camp of their own.

Tuesday’s ruling builds on a recent precedent in Germany, which states that anyone who worked at a function of a Nazi camp could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the killings committed there.

In another case, a 96-year-old woman was on trial in Itzehoe, northern Germany, at the end of September. The woman, who is said to have worked as a secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp during the war, is accused of being an accessory to murder in more than 11,000 counts.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/germany-former-nazi-guard-jailed/507-0b023f32-1624-4292-9b93-fd906cf39561 Former Nazi guard, 101, sentenced to five years in prison

Alley Einstein

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