Despite his advanced age, the suspect is considered fit for trial.
A 100-year-old man is being accused of being an accomplice in the murder of 3,518 people in a Nazi concentration camp outside Berlin, Germany.
The man reportedly worked in the Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945 as a member of the Nazi Party paramilitary wing, said Cyrill Klement, who led the investigation.
The man’s identity remains unknown because of German privacy laws. Despite his advanced age, the suspect is considered fit for trial.
The case comes after a 95-year-old woman, who worked during the war as secretary to the Nazi Party commander in the Stuthof concentration camp, was accused of collusion in homicide crimes.
Both charges advanced after legal precedents were set in Germany, which establishes that anyone who helped in a Nazi camp can be tried for the crimes committed there.
Efraim Zuroff, an academic with a history of persecution of Nazis, said the two new cases serve as “vital reminders of the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia”.
“The defendants’ advanced age is no excuse for ignoring them and allowing them to live in the peace and tranquility that they have denied to their victims,” he said.
The new legal precedent was set in 2011 with the conviction of a former Ohio auto industry worker, John Demjanjuk, as an accomplice to murder on allegations that he served as a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp in Germany-occupied Poland. Demjanjuk, who vehemently denied the charges, died while the trial was underway.
Subsequently, a court upheld the 2015 conviction of former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening, obtained with the same line of reasoning, solidifying the precedent.
The Neuruppin court, northwest of the city of Oranienburg, where Sachsenhausen was located, will now assess the case and the suitability of the 100-year-old defendant and then set a date for the trial, said Cyrill Klement.
SACHSENHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP
Sachsenhausen was installed in 1936, north of Berlin, and aimed to serve as a model for other fields and to be a training ground.
More than 200,000 people were held there between 1936 and 1945, and tens of thousands died of hunger, disease, forced labor, and other causes, including medical experiments and systematic extermination operations, including shootings, hangings, and actions with toxic gases.
The exact numbers on the dead vary, with higher estimates of around 100,000, although academics suggest that numbers between 40,000 and 50,000 are probably more accurate.
In the early years, most prisoners were political or criminal prisoners, but they also included some Witnesses and homosexuals. The first large group of Jewish prisoners was brought there in 1938.
During the war, it was expanded to include Soviet prisoners of war – who were shot by the thousands – as well as others.
As in other camps, Jewish prisoners in Sachsenhausen received particularly harsh treatment, and most of those who remained alive were sent to Auschwitz camp in 1942.