Man (100) on trial for role as Nazi guard tells court he is innocent

Defendant charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder at concentration camp

Defendant Josef S sits next to his lawyer Stefan Waterkamp and hides his face behind a folder as he waits for the start of his trial in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

Defendant Josef S sits next to his lawyer Stefan Waterkamp and hides his face behind a folder as he waits for the start of his trial in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

 

A 100-year-old man on trial for his alleged role as a Nazi SS guard at a concentration camp during the second World War has told a German court that he is innocent.

He is charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, where he allegedly worked between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing.

The man, identified only as Josef S in line with German court reporting rules, is the oldest ever defendant in such a trial.

German news agency dpa reported that he said on the second day of his trial at the Neuruppin state court that he did not know the Sachsenhausen camp.

Two witnesses from France and the Netherlands earlier told the court that their fathers were killed at Sachsenhausen for having been part of the resistance against the Nazis.

Authorities deemed the defendant fit enough to stand trial despite his advanced age, though the number of hours per day the court is in session will be limited.

More than 200,000 people were held at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands died of starvation, disease, exhaustion from forced labour and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic killing.

The exact numbers killed vary, with upper estimates of 100,000, though scholars suggest 40,000 to 50,000 is more likely.

“The defendant knowingly and willingly aided and abetted this at least by conscientiously performing guard duty, which was seamlessly integrated into the killing system,” prosecutor Cyrill Klement told the court.

Further hearings are scheduled until January. – AP