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Germany seeking to try former Auschwitz guard, 93

Prosecutors await health assessment for man known as Reinhold H., accused of 170,000 counts of accessory to murder

A picture taken just after the liberation by the Soviet army in January 1945 shows a group of children wearing concentration camp uniforms behind barbed wire fencing in the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp. (AP Photo/File)
A picture taken just after the liberation by the Soviet army in January 1945 shows a group of children wearing concentration camp uniforms behind barbed wire fencing in the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp. (AP Photo/File)

BERLIN — A court in western Germany says it’s waiting on a doctor’s assessment of a 93-year-old former Auschwitz guard to determine if he can stand trial on 170,000 counts of accessory to murder.

Detmold state court spokeswoman Anke Grudda said Friday it could be several weeks before the health assessment for Reinhold H., whose last name wasn’t given in line with privacy laws, is resolved. The suspect’s attorney says his client isn’t fit for trial.

The retiree is accused of serving as a guard at the extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland from 1942 through 1944. Prosecutors argue he is an accessory to murder for helping the death camp function but he’s not charged with a specific killing.

The suspect says he was assigned to a part of the camp not involved in the mass murders.

This is not the first time this year a nonagenarian has stood trial for his alleged activities at the Nazi death camp during the Holocaust.

In July, 94-year-old former Nazi SS officer Oskar Groening, known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” was given a four-year jail sentence was convicted by a court in the northern German city of Lueneburg of accessory to murder in 300,000 cases of Hungarian Jews sent to the gas chambers from May to July 1944.

Groening said after the verdict that he would appeal.

His lawyers had argued during the three-month trial that Groening’s role at the camp had been “minor” and demanded an acquittal.

Prosecutors sought three and a half years’ jail for Groening based on the “nearly incomprehensible number of victims,” but mitigated by “the limited contribution of the accused” to their deaths.

Groening served as an accountant at Auschwitz, sorting and counting the money taken from those killed or used as slave labour, and shipping it back to his Nazi superiors in Berlin.

Court observers say it is unlikely Groening, who was not in custody during the trial, would ever serve time in prison given his advanced age and deteriorating health.

Some 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished between 1940 and 1945 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp before it was liberated by Soviet forces.

AFP contributed to this report

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