BERLIN, Germany — German prosecutors said Wednesday they have filed charges against a former SS soldier for incitement and disparaging the memory of Nazi victims, after the 96-year-old made inflammatory remarks in an interview broadcast on television.
The accused was not named by prosecutors but he is understood to be Karl Muenter, who had previously been convicted in France over his role in the killing of 86 people in the northern French village of Ascq during World War II.
Muenter told journalists in an interview broadcast by German channel ARD last November that those killed in Ascq were themselves to blame for their deaths.
He also disputed the fact that the Holocaust claimed the lives of six million Jews.
“The accused did not dispute giving the information to journalists but he said he did not know that the interview was recorded and would be later broadcast,” prosecutors from Lower Saxony said in a statement.
“He also did not view his statements as incitement and therefore thought he would not be liable to prosecution.”
If convicted, the accused faces up to five years in jail for incitement and two years for disparaging the memory of the deceased.
Muenter was 21 years old and a member of the “Hitler Youth” SS division on the night of April 1, 1944, when a train carrying some 50 soldiers of the division was slightly derailed by an explosion in an act of sabotage by the Resistance.
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The troops took revenge by shooting dead 86 men in the nearby village of Ascq, the youngest of whom was 15 years old.
Muenter has already had several run-ins with the courts over his past in the SS.
He was sentenced to death in absentia by a French military tribunal in 1949 for his role in the Ascq mass killing but was pardoned in 1955 as part of French-German reconciliation efforts after World War II.
German prosecutors had sought to reopen the war crime case on his home soil but dropped the case against him in March last year because of his prior conviction in France — under a legal principle known as double jeopardy.