First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

German court sentences ex-SS camp guard, aged 101, to f...


Nazi trials

German court sentences ex-SS camp guard, aged 101, to five years in jail

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp site in Oranienburg, Germany, 27 January 2019. EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON
By Reuters
28 Jun 2022 0

NEURUPPIN, Germany, June 28 (Reuters) - A German court sentenced a former SS guard, now 101 years old, to five years in prison on Tuesday for assisting in the murder of some 3,500 people at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, bringing to an end one of the last Nazi trials in Germany.

Prosecutors had said that Josef S., a member of the Nazi party’s paramilitary SS, helped to send 3,518 people to their deaths at the Sachsenhausen camp, north of Berlin, by regularly standing guard in the watchtower between 1942 and 1945.

The trial took nearly nine months as doctors had said the man, whose full name was not disclosed due to German trial reporting rules, was only partially fit to stand trial, and sessions were limited to two and a half hours a day.

Some people interned in Sachsenhausen were murdered with Zyklon-B, the poison gas also used in other extermination camps where millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Sachsenhausen housed mainly political prisoners from across Europe, along with Soviet prisoners of war and some Jews.

There has been a spate of charges brought against former concentration camp guards in recent years for World War Two crimes against humanity. In September, a former camp secretary went on the run the day her trial was to begin, but was caught by police hours later.

A 2011 court ruling paved the way for these prosecutions, stating that even those who contributed indirectly to wartime murders, without pulling a trigger or giving an order, could bear criminal responsibility.

Defence lawyer Stefan Waterkamp said his client would appeal Tuesday’s ruling and that a higher court would decide whether “general guard service without concrete participation” provided sufficient grounds for such a verdict.

(Reporting by Reuters TelevisionWriting by Maria Sheehan and Rachel MoreEditing by Gareth Jones)


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted