A former Nazi concentration camp has been given a five-year jail term for assisting in the murder of thousands of prisoners at Sachsenhausen near Berlin during the Hitler led Nazi regime.
The guard identified as Josef S, due to Germany’s privacy laws, is the oldest Nazi criminal ever to stand trial in a German court.
He had always denied being an SS guard at the camp.
Tens of thousands of people died at Sachsenhausen during World War Two from starvation, forced labour, medical experiments and murder by the SS. More than 200,000 people were imprisoned there, including political prisoners as well as Jews, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies).
The court on Tuesday, June 28 found him guilty of aiding and abetting the murders of 3,518 people saying he was complicit in the shooting of Soviet prisoners of war and the murder of others with Zyklon B gas.
His lawyers had called for his acquittal and is set to appeal against the prison sentence.
“I don’t know why I’m sitting here in the sin bin. I really had nothing to do with it,” Josef S said in his closing statement on the eve of the verdict in Brandenburg an der Havel.
Judge Udo Lechtermann told him that the court had found that he had worked at the concentration camp for around three years from 1942. “You willingly supported this mass extermination through your occupation,” he said.
Trial of Nazi camp guards became possible in 2011, when ex-SS guard John Demjanjuk was found guilty. Yhe verdict prompted a search for Nazi individuals who were still alive.
Four years later, the so-called “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, Oskar Gröning, was given a jail term. And a 97-year-old former concentration camp secretary is currently on trial in northern Germany.
Josef S is not fully identified in Germany because of privacy conventions. Although his name and birth details were given on the documents of an SS guard, he claimed he had not been at the camp and worked instead as a farm labourer.