German court sets trial date for former Nazi guard, aged 100
BERLIN (AP) - A German court has set a trial date for a 100-year-old man who is charged with aiding and abetting murder in 3,518 cases while serving as a Nazi SS guard in a concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin Second World War.
A spokeswoman for the Neuruppin Regional Court said on Monday that the trial should begin in early October. The centenarian's name was not published in accordance with German data protection laws.
The suspect is said to have worked as a soldier in the paramilitary wing of the NSDAP in the Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945.
Authorities say that despite his advanced age, the suspect is considered fit enough to stand trial, although the number of hours per day the court sits may need to be limited.
"A medical report confirms that he is limited negotiable," said court spokeswoman Iris le Claire.
The case was transferred to the Neuruppin Office in 2019 from the Special Federal Prosecutor's Office in Ludwigsburg to investigate war crimes from the Nazi era. The Neuruppin Regional Court is located northwest of the city of Oranienburg, where Sachsenhausen was.
The defendant is said to live in the state of Brandenburg outside of Berlin, local media reported.
Sachsenhausen was the first new camp to be established north of Berlin in 1936 after Adolf Hitler gave the SS full control of the Nazi concentration camp system. It was supposed to be a model facility and a training camp for the labyrinthine network that the Nazis built in Germany, Austria and the occupied territories.
More than 200,000 people were held there between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of prisoners died there of starvation, illness, forced labor and other causes as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination actions with shootings, hangings and gassings.
The exact numbers of those killed vary, with upper estimates of around 100,000, although scientists suggest numbers of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.
In his early years, most prisoners were either political prisoners or criminal prisoners, but some were Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals as well. The first large group of Jewish prisoners was brought there in 1938 after the Kristallnacht, an anti-Semitic pogrom.
During the war, Sachsenhausen was expanded to include Soviet prisoners of war, who were shot in the thousands, as well as others.
As in other camps, Jewish prisoners were treated particularly harshly in Sachsenhausen, and most of those who survived in 1942 were taken to the Auschwitz extermination camp.
Sachsenhausen was liberated by the Soviets in April 1945 and turned into its own brutal camp.
In another case, a 96-year-old woman is on trial in Itzehoe in northern Germany at the end of September. The woman, who is said to have worked as secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp during the war, was charged with complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases earlier this year.
Both her case and the charges against the 100-year-old suspect are based on current precedents in Germany, which state that anyone who supported a Nazi camp function can be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the murders committed there.
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