101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard jailed for five years

A 101-year-old man has been jailed for five years for serving as an SS guard at a Nazi concentration camp in Germany during the Second World War.The 101-year-old in the courtroom in Brandenburg, GermanyThe 101-year-old in the courtroom in Brandenburg, Germany

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons under German law, was convicted of 3,518 counts of accessory to murder on Tuesday at Neruppin Regional Court in Brandenburg state.

He had denied working as an SS guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg between 1942 and 1945 and aiding and abetting the murder of thousands of prisoners. His lawyers argued there was no evidence he had actively assisted in any killings.

He had denied ever working at the camp, but prosecutors presented several documents containing his name, date and place of birth, to argue that he did. The defendant was said to have been an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing, German news agency dpa reported.

“The court has come to the conclusion that, contrary to what you claim, you worked in the concentration camp as a guard for about three years,” presiding Judge Udo Lechtermann said, according to dpa, adding that in doing so, the defendant had assisted in the terror and murder machinery of the Nazis. “You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity,” the judge added.

The defendant had told the trial, which began in October, that he had been a farm worker near Pasewalk in northeastern Germany during the period in question. Due to his age, he was only able to participate in the trial for about two-and-a-half hours each day. Proceedings were adjourned several times for health reasons and hospital stays.

Sachsenhausen was an early Nazi concentration camp established in 1936 just north of Berlin, after Adolf Hitler gave the SS full control of the internment system. It was intended to be a model facility and training camp for the network the Nazis built across Germany, Austria and occupied territories. More than 200,000 people were detained at the camp between 1936 and 1945, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum website.

Tens of thousands of inmates died of starvation, disease, forced labour and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination operations including shootings, hangings and gassing. Exact numbers on those killed vary, with upper estimates of some 100,000, though experts suggest figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.

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