A German court has set a date for the trial of a 100-year-old man who is charged with 3,518 counts of aiding and abetting murder over allegations he served as a Nazi SS guard in a concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin during World War II.
A spokeswoman for Neuruppin State Court said on Monday that the trial is expected to begin in early October. The name of the centenary has not been released in accordance with German privacy laws.
The suspect is said to have worked at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.
Authorities say despite his advanced age, the suspect is considered fit enough to stand trial, although the number of hours per day the court sits may be limited.
“A medical evaluation confirms that he is fit to stand trial on a limited basis,” said court spokeswoman Iris le Claire.
The Neuruppin office was seized of the case in 2019 by the Ludwigsburg Special Federal Prosecutor’s Office responsible for investigating Nazi-era war crimes. Neuruppin State Court is based in the northwest of the city of Oranienburg, where Sachsenhausen was located.
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The accused is believed to be living in Brandenburg state outside Berlin, local media reported.
Sachsenhausen was established in 1936 just north of Berlin as the first new camp after Adolf Hitler gave the SS full control of the Nazi concentration camp system. It was intended to be a model facility and training camp for the labyrinthine network the Nazis built across Germany, Austria, and the occupied territories.
Over 200,000 people were held there between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of detainees died of hunger, disease, forced labor and other causes, as well as medical experiments and systematic operations. SS extermination including shootings, hangings and gassings.
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The exact numbers of people killed vary, with upper estimates of around 100,000, although the researchers suggest that the figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.
In its early years, most prisoners were either political prisoners or criminal prisoners, but also included Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. The first large group of Jewish prisoners were brought there in 1938 after the Night of Broken Glass, or Night of Crystal, 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.
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As in other camps, Jewish prisoners were singled out at Sachsenhausen for particularly harsh treatment, and most of those who remained alive in 1942 were sent to the Auschwitz death camp.
Sachsenhausen was liberated in April 1945 by the Soviets, who made it their own brutal camp.
In another case, a 96-year-old woman will be tried at the end of September in the town of Itzehoe, in northern Germany. The woman, who allegedly worked during the war as secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, was charged with more than 10,000 counts of aiding and abetting murder earlier this year.
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His case and the charges against the hundred-year-old suspect are both based on recent legal precedent in Germany establishing that anyone who helped a Nazi camp operate can be prosecuted for complicity in killings there.
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