BERLIN — German prosecutors on Tuesday sought a five-year prison sentence for a 101-year-old man who is on trial for his alleged role as a Nazi SS guard at a concentration camp during World War II.
The defendant is charged with 3,518 counts of being an accessory to murder at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he allegedly worked between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing. He has been identified only as Josef S. in keeping with German privacy rules.
Prosecutor Cyrill Klement told the defendant that he “accepted the dehumanization of the victims,” news agency dpa reported. The defendant has been on trial since October at the Neuruppin state court, with hearings being held in the nearby eastern city of Brandenburg.
He has told the court that he didn’t know the Sachsenhausen camp. There are no formal pleas in the German legal system. Prosecutors have pointed to documents on an SS guard with the man’s name and date and place of birth.
The defense is expected to make closing arguments on June 1 and a verdict has been penciled in for June 2.
More than 200,000 people were held at Sachsenhausen, just north of Berlin, between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of inmates died of starvation, disease, exhaustion from forced labor and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination operations including shootings, hangings and gassing.
Estimates of the exact numbers killed vary, ranging up to some 100,000, though scholars suggest figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.