German Man, Aged 98, Faces Charges for Complicity in Murder at Nazi Death Camp

by Gabriel Martinez
Sachsenhausen concentration camp trial

A German man, aged 98, is facing legal proceedings for his role as an accessory to murder during his service as a guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp between the years 1943 and 1945, according to a statement released by prosecutors on Friday.

The individual, a resident of the Main-Kinzig district near Frankfurt, is alleged to have “aided and abetted the systematic and brutal extermination of thousands of detainees as part of the SS guard unit,” state prosecutors in Giessen announced. The identity of the accused has not been publicly disclosed.

The accused is facing upwards of 3,300 counts of accessory to murder, spanning from July 1943 to February 1945. The formal charges have been submitted to the state court in Hanau, which is now tasked with determining whether the case will proceed to trial. Should the case go to trial, it will be conducted under juvenile law due to the accused’s age at the time of the purported offenses.

Last October, a psychiatric evaluation deemed that the accused is mentally capable of facing trial, albeit on a restricted basis.

This legal action follows a series of similar cases brought about by German prosecutors. A recent legal precedent allows for the prosecution of individuals as accessories to murder for their role in facilitating the operations of a Nazi concentration camp, even without direct evidence linking them to a specific act of killing.

In German jurisprudence, neither murder nor being an accessory to murder is bound by a statute of limitations.

Sachsenhausen, located just to the north of Berlin, detained over 200,000 individuals between 1936 and 1945. A significant number perished due to a multitude of factors including starvation, illness, forced labor, and other harsh conditions, as well as through sadistic medical experiments and orchestrated extermination activities by the SS, such as shootings, hangings, and gassings.

While precise figures for those who lost their lives at Sachsenhausen vary, scholarly consensus tends to suggest a range of 40,000 to 50,000, although higher estimates reach up to 100,000.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Sachsenhausen concentration camp trial

What is the age of the man charged in this case?

The man charged in this case is 98 years old.

Where did the alleged crimes take place?

The alleged crimes took place at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, located just north of Berlin.

During what years did the man allegedly serve as a guard at the concentration camp?

He allegedly served as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp between 1943 and 1945.

What are the specific charges against him?

He is facing more than 3,300 counts of being an accessory to murder.

Where has the indictment been filed?

The indictment has been filed at the state court in Hanau.

Will the accused be tried under juvenile or adult law?

If the case goes to trial, the accused will be tried under juvenile law due to his age at the time of the alleged crimes.

Is the man mentally fit to stand trial?

A psychiatric evaluation conducted last October found that the accused is mentally fit to stand trial, at least on a limited basis.

What legal precedent allows for his prosecution?

Recent German legal precedent allows for individuals who facilitated the operations of a Nazi concentration camp to be prosecuted as accessories to murder, even without direct evidence linking them to a specific act of killing.

Is there a statute of limitations for these charges under German law?

No, charges of murder and being an accessory to murder are not subject to a statute of limitations under German law.

How many people were detained at Sachsenhausen, and how many died there?

More than 200,000 people were held at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. The exact number of deaths varies, but scholarly estimates suggest a likely range of 40,000 to 50,000, although some estimates go as high as 100,000.

More about Sachsenhausen concentration camp trial

  • German Law on Statute of Limitations for Murder
  • Historical Overview of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
  • Recent German Legal Precedents on Nazi War Crimes
  • Psychiatric Assessments in Criminal Trials
  • Overview of Juvenile Law in Germany

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John Smith September 1, 2023 - 2:10 pm

Wow, 98 years old and still facing charges. It’s never too late for justice, i guess.

Robert Johnson September 1, 2023 - 2:59 pm

psychiatric fit or not, being accountable for such crimes is important. But how will they even do a fair trial for someone that old?

Sandra Williams September 1, 2023 - 3:08 pm

can’t believe he might be tried under juvenile law just cuz of his age back then. That’s a little hard to wrap my head around.

Emily Brown September 1, 2023 - 10:43 pm

It’s interesting how the German legal system works. No statute of limitations on such crimes, really drives home the seriousness.

Paul Davis September 2, 2023 - 12:52 am

So many lost lives, and only now are we getting to this. Better late than never but… Man, it took way too long.


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