100-year-old former Nazi camp guard charged with thousands of Holocaust murders

100-year-old former Nazi camp guard charged with thousands of Holocaust murders
© Getty Images

A 100-year-old former guard at the Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen has been charged with aiding and abetting the murders of thousands of people during the Holocaust, German prosecutors announced this week.

Officials in Neuruppin, Brandenburg, said the man, unidentified in accordance with German privacy laws, worked at the camp in Oranienburg from January 1942 to February 1945, according to CNN.

During that time, prosecutors allege he "knowingly and willfully" assisted in the murders of 3,518 people who died there.

ADVERTISEMENT

“These include, among others, the execution by shooting of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942,” the court in Neuruppin said in a statement. “In addition, the charges include accessory to the murder of prisoners through the use of the lethal gas Zyklon B as well as the shootings and deaths of prisoners through maintaining life-threatening conditions in the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp.”

Established roughly 20 miles north of Berlin in 1936, Sachsenhausen held an estimated 200,000 prisoners, and 100,000 are believed to have died there. 

Cyrill Klement, the Neuruppin court's senior prosecutor, told CNN that the man is considered fit to stand trial despite being a centenarian. Officials consulted with a forensic psychiatrist, who determined the former guard can attend his trial for a few hours a day with breaks.

“It took a long time, which has not made things any easier, because now we are dealing with such elderly defendants,” Klement told The New York Times. “But murder and accessory to murder have no statute of limitation.”

Approximately 6,000 Nazi guards and personnel were trained at Sachsenhausen before being dispatched to other camps, according to the outlet, and many escaped prosecution after the war.

“Most of the perpetrators from Sachsenhausen got off scot-free,” said Axel Drecoll, director of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation. “The charges are a late, but important sign that such crimes will be brought to justice.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The case is the latest attempt by the German government to prosecute Nazi war criminals who have eluded punishment for decades.

German prosecutors are investigating several other cases connected to the concentration camps of Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Mauthausen and Stutthof, according to the Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes.

Last week, a former secretary at the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp was charged with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people. 

The woman "is accused of having assisted those responsible at the camp in the systematic killing of Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war in her function as a stenographer and secretary to the camp commander," prosecutors said.

She will reportedly face a juvenile court due to her minor status at the time of the alleged crimes.

Last year, a 93-year-old former guard at Stutthof was convicted in a juvenile court of thousands of counts of being an accessory to murder. He was 17 when the crimes were committed and received a suspended two-year prison sentence.

“These cases are important contextually, but also symbolically,” Drecoll said. “It shows that the German justice system takes seriously and continues to pursue these crimes. It is eminently important.”