“This is the last trial for my friends, acquaintances and my loved ones who were murdered,” said a concentration camp survivor.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
A 100-year-old German man is facing charges for being an accessory to a staggering 3,518 murders, as prosecutors say he served as a concentration camp guard over seven decades ago.
Identified as Josef S, the man is believed to have been a member of the Nazi party’s paramilitary wing and reportedly worked at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp between 1942 and 1945.
The camp was the site of mass shootings of Soviet prisoners of war, as well as the gassing of Jews, political dissidents, and others using Zyklon B.
“The defendant supported this knowingly and willingly – at least by conscientiously carrying out guard duty, which was perfectly integrated into the killing regime,” argued prosecutor Cyrill Klement.
Plaintiffs in the case against Josef S include survivors of the camp and relatives of those who perished there.
A number of the plaintiffs spoke out at the opening of the trial, telling the media that the accused’s advanced age should not factor into whether or not he should be held responsible for his alleged crimes.
“Murder isn’t destiny; it’s not a crime that can be legally erased by time,” Christoffel Heijer, the son of a Dutch resistance fighter murdered at Sachsenhuasen, told Berliner Zeitung.
100-year-old Jewish camp survivor, Leon Schwarzbaum, told German news agency dpa that it was important that Josef S face justice.
“This is the last trial for my friends, acquaintances and my loved ones who were murdered, in which the last guilty person can still be sentenced – hopefully.”
The defendant’s attorney said he would not be commenting on the allegations, appearing to imply that the elderly man could not recall his actions during the time period.
Executive vice-president of the Auschwitz Committee Christoph Heubner expressed skepticism over the statement.
“I found [Josef S] surprisingly robust and present. He would have the strength to make an apology and he would also have the strength to remember,” Heubner told media gathered outside the courtroom.
“Obviously, however, he does not want to muster the strength to remember, and for the survivors of the camps and for the relatives of the murdered who have come here to hear some truth spoken, this means once again a rejection, a disparagement and a confrontation with the continued silence of the SS.”