BERLIN – A 100-year-old man at trial for his alleged role as a Nazi SS guard in a concentration camp during World War II told a German court on Friday he was innocent.
The defendant is charged with 3,518 counts of aiding to murder at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, where he allegedly worked as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing between 1942 and 1945.
German news agency DPA reported that the defendant, who was identified only as Josef S in keeping with German confidentiality rules, said on the second day of his trial before the Neruppin state court that he did not know the Sachsenhausen camp.
Two witnesses from France and the Netherlands previously told the court how his father was killed in Sachsenhausen as part of the resistance against the Nazis.
Officers deemed the defendant sufficiently fit to stand trial regardless of his advanced age, although court sessions would limit the number of hours per day.
Between 1936 and 1945 more than 200,000 people were housed in Sachsenhausen. Tens of thousands of prisoners died of exhaustion from starvation, disease, forced labor and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination operations, which included shootings, executions and gassings.
The exact number of people killed varies with upper estimates of around 100,000, although scholars suggest that figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely to be more accurate.
Prosecutor Cyril Clement told the court, “The defendant knowingly and voluntarily assisted and at least conscientiously abetted it by performing guard duty, which was originally integrated into the murder system.”
Further hearing is scheduled for January.