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Germany charges 98-year-old Nazi guard for murder complicity

The German man worked as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, where more than 200,000 people were imprisoned in the lead-up to and during World War II.

The case was filed in the state court in Hanau. Image: Michael Schick/imago images

A 98-year-old man has been charged with being an accessory to murder over complicity in the killings of more than 3,300 people at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, German authorities said on Friday.

The German man was an adolescent when he worked as an SS watchman at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp between July 1943 and February 1945.

Prosecutors alleged the man "supported the cruel and malicious killing of thousands of prisoners as a member of the SS guard detail" during that time.

Sachsenhausen was situated north of Berlin. More than 200,000 people were held at the concentration camp, including Jewish people, political prisoners and other victims of Nazi persecution. Scholars suggest around around 40,000 to 50,000 prisoners were killed there.

The race to prosecute surviving Nazis

A psychiatric assessment found the 98-year-old man, whose name was not released, fit to stand trial.

However, given his young age at the time of the alleged crime, a juvenile court in Hanau will decide whether to open proceedings.

The conviction of former Nazi guard John Demjanjuk in 2011 set a precedent in German law that allowed others to be prosecuted for their actions during the Holocaust.

Since then, Germany has seen a stream of legal actions against surviving SS personnel.

But due to the advanced aged of the accused, many of these trials have had to be cancelled on health grounds.

Convictions do not always lead to imprisonment. Some defendants have died before they could begin to serve their jail terms.


(c) 2023, DW


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