Tuesday 25 October 2016

Trial of SS medic who served at Auschwitz begins in Germany

Published 12/09/2016 | 13:41

Hubert Zafke sits in a courtroom ahead of his trial in Neubrandenburg (AP)
Hubert Zafke sits in a courtroom ahead of his trial in Neubrandenburg (AP)

A former SS medic who served at the Auschwitz death camp has gone on trial in the northern German city of Neubrandenburg.

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But questions remain about whether the 95-year-old is fit enough for the proceedings to continue.

The trial of Hubert Zafke, scheduled to start in February, already has been postponed three times after presiding Judge Klaus Kabisch determined Mr Zafke was not well enough to participate based on a doctor's assessment.

On Monday, Mr Zafke was pushed into Neubrandenburg state court in a wheelchair, holding a wooden cane in his hand.

The dpa news agency reported that he made no comment after the charges against him were read.

Mr Zafke is charged with 3,681 counts of accessory to murder for allegedly helping the Nazi camp function.

His lawyer says he did nothing criminal.


Prosecutors and lawyers representing Auschwitz victims and their families who have joined the trial as co-plaintiffs, as allowed under German law, said they would still file motions accusing Judge Kabisch of bias for his previous rulings on Mr Zafke's health.

However, Judge Kabisch put off hearing those motions and said he intended to examine the issue of Mr Zafke's health further, dpa reported.

The charges stem from a one-month period in 1944 and involve the deaths of Jews who arrived in 14 train transports, among them one that brought Anne Frank and her family to the camp.

Ms Frank died later at Bergen-Belsen, and Mr Zafke is not charged over her death.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Zafke's unit was involved in putting gas into gas chambers to kill Jews and others, screening blood and other samples from hospitalised women prisoners, and otherwise helping the camp run by treating SS guard personnel.

They say the unit was also involved in auxiliary guard duties.


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