A 100-year-old man is going on trial in Germany today, accused of being an accessory to murder for serving as a Nazi SS guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin during World War II.
The trial of the defendant, who is charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder, is being held at the Neuruppin state court, which moved the proceedings to a prison sport hall in Brandenburg for organizational reasons.
The court has not disclosed the name of the suspect. He is alleged to have worked at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing.
Authorities say that despite his advanced age, the suspect is considered fit enough to stand trial, though the number of hours per day the court is in session may have to be limited.
More than 200,000 people were held at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of inmates died of starvation, disease, forced labour and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination operations including shootings, hangings and gassing.
Exact numbers on those killed vary, with upper estimates of some 100,000, though scholars suggest figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.
The trial comes a week after the opening of another elderly concentration camp suspect's trial was disrupted.
A 96-year-old former secretary for the Stutthof camp’s SS commander skipped the opening of her trial at the Itzehoe state court in northern Germany. She was tracked down within hours and proceedings are to resume on October 19.