A 101-year-old man was convicted on Tuesday in Germany of 3,518 counts of aiding and abetting murder for serving in the Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen during World War II.
The Neuruppin Regional Court sentenced him to five years in prison.
The man, who has not been identified, had denied working as an SS guard at the camp and aiding and abetting the murder of thousands of prisoners.
At the trial, which began in October, the man said he worked as a farm laborer near Pasewalk in northeastern Germany during the time in question.
However, the court found there was evidence that he had worked in the camp on the outskirts of Berlin between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing, the German Press Agency reported. dpa.
“The court has come to the conclusion that, contrary to what you claim, you worked in the concentration camp as a guard for about three years,” presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said, according to dpa, adding that in doing so , the accused had aided in the terror and murder machinery of the Nazis.
“You voluntarily supported this mass extermination with your activity,” Lechtermann said.
Prosecutors had based their case on documents relating to an SS guard with the man’s name, date and place of birth, as well as other documents.
For organizational reasons, the trial took place in a gymnasium in Brandenburg/Havel, the 101-year-old’s place of residence. The man was only fit to stand trial to a limited extent and was only able to participate in the trial for about two and a half hours a day. The trial was interrupted several times for health and hospitalization reasons.
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 installation and training camp for the labyrinthine network the Nazis built across Germany, Austria and the occupied territories.
More than 200,000 people were held there between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of inmates died of starvation, disease, forced labor and other causes, as well as medical experiments and systematic extermination operations SS, including shootings, hangings and gassings.
The exact number of people killed varies, with higher estimates of around 100,000, although researchers suggest that figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.
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.
Tuesday’s verdict builds on recent legal precedent in Germany that anyone who helped run a Nazi camp can be prosecuted for complicity in the murders committed there.