by: Janet Aslin
Wednesday, 4 August 2021 | The trial of a German centenarian, accused of having been a Nazi SS guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, has been set for October. The man, as yet unnamed for privacy reasons, has been charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder, which took place between 1942 and 1945 at the camp which was located on the outskirts of Berlin.
Sachsenhausen was established in 1936 and was one of the more than 1,000 concentration camps operated by Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. It originally housed political or criminal prisoners. In 1938, after Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), the first large group of Jewish prisoners were brought to the camp. Later the Jewish prisoners were sent to Auschwitz, one of the six death camps run by the Nazis.
In addition to the six million Jewish men, women and children who died at the hands of the Nazi regime during World War II, millions of others, including Soviet citizens, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals, were also killed. At Nuremberg, Germany in November 1945, the upper echelon of the Nazi leadership were put on trial and sentenced for their part in the genocide.
However, many wanted Nazis fled to western countries such as Argentina, the United States and others. A list of Nazi war criminals who remain at large, published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was last updated in 2018.
Normally there is a statute of limitations for criminal acts. Due to the magnitude of Nazi war crimes, however, Germany’s 20-year statute of limitations was removed in its entirety. In addition, a recent legal precedent set in Germany to allows the prosecution as an accessory for anyone who helped a Nazi camp function.
In addition to the 100-year-old man who is set to go on trial, a 96-year-old woman will face charges in September for her role as secretary for the SS commandant of the Stutthof concentration camp. She has been charged with 10,000 counts of accessory to murder.
Those directly involved in Nazi war crimes, as well as their victims, are now dying of old age. In a short time we will no longer have their firsthand accounts. It is important that the guilty be held accountable, no matter how many years have transpired. And it is equally important that we acknowledge the lives of those who suffered at their hands.
Posted on August 4, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 4, 2021)
Photo Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/wikimedia.org
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