Camp Guard, Now 94, Faces German Youth Court Trial

A 94-year-old German man is to go on trial in a juvenile court accused of being an accessory to hundreds of murders in a  concentration camp during the second world war.

The man, who has not been named for legal reasons, will be tried in a juvenile court because he was under 21 at the time of the alleged crimes.

The former guard, of the SS, is charged with having known about the killings of hundreds of people during the three years he served in the Stutthof death camp near the Gdansk, Poland. He has denied the accusations.

He would have been, at most, 21 years old at the end of the war. German prosecutors have been keen to see as many perpetrators of Nazi crimes put on trial as possible, but the few remaining suspects are now in extreme old age.

That is creating its own problems beyond the unusual sight of a nonagenarian being tried in a juvenile court. Hearings in the Stutthof case, scheduled to start on 6 November, will last a maximum of two hours each day because of the poor health of the suspect.

In another case, it was undecided whether a 93-year-old was mentally fit to undergo trial for alleged wartime crimes. The legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis changed in 2011 with the landmark conviction of the former death camp guard John Demjanjuk.

He was sentenced not for atrocities he was known to have committed, but on the basis that he served at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland and had been “a cog in the Nazis’ killing machine.”

Last year a court ruled that Oskar Gröning, known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz” for his job of counting cash taken from the camp’s inmates, should be jailed after years of wrangling over whether his health and age permitted a prison term. He died in March, aged 96, before starting his sentence.


Published in: on September 24, 2018 at 12:43 am  Leave a Comment