Alleged Nazi death camp guard charged

  • 21/10/2017
Danger sign at the former electrified perimeter fence at the Auschwitz II memorial and former concentration camp.
Danger sign at the former electrified perimeter fence at the Auschwitz II memorial and former concentration camp. Photo credit: Getty

Prosecutors have charged a 96-year-old former guard at a Nazi death camp with having been an accessory to murder, as Germany races against time to bring elderly suspects from the Hitler era to trial before they die.

The then 22-year-old man, whom the Frankfurt prosecutor's office did not identify in its statement, is accused of having guarded prisoners at the death camp in Lublin-Majdanek who were slated to be killed in 1943 and 1944.

"According to the evidence available, the accused knew about the cruelty of the organised mass killings, just like all other members of the SS at the camp," it said in a statement.

"He also knew that these people, facing their fate innocently and defencelessly, were killed for inhuman reasons based on race."

Tens of thousands of Jews and other victims were killed at the Majdanek camp near Lublin, in modern-day Poland.

The suspect played a role in the 'Erntefest' [Harvest Festival] executions on November 3, 1943, in which at least 17,000 deported Jewish prisoners were shot dead after having dug their own graves, the prosecutor's statement said.

"By being part of a chain of guards and a tower guard, he made a contribution to [the Erntefest] and knowingly and willingly supported the malicious and cruel acts."

The prosecutor's charges are based on an investigation by the Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes and on historical documents found as part of the investigation.

Germany has faced criticism for not prosecuting those who were small cogs in the Nazi machine and did not actively take part in the killing of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

Reuters