Neuruppin, Germany: A former SS guard, now 100 years old, stumbled into a German courtroom on a walking frame on Thursday for being accused of helping send more than 3,500 people to their deaths in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
Prosecutors say Josef S, a member of the Nazi party’s paramilitary SS, contributed to the deaths of 3,518 people in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp by regularly standing guard in the watchtower between 1942 and 1945.
Doctors have said that the man, whose full name was not disclosed due to German rules of court reporting, is only partially fit to stand trial: sessions will be limited to only 2½ hours each day.
When the trial began, his lawyer kept a blue folder to hide his client’s face when he was brought into court in Neuruppin, near Berlin, and he shielded his face when the trial began.
Some people interned in Sachsenhausen were murdered with Zyklon-B, the poison gas was also used in other extermination camps, where millions of Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
Sachsenhausen housed predominantly political prisoners from all over Europe along with Soviet prisoners of war and some Jews.
“It’s a lot of emotion … I can not really speak,” said Antoine Grumbach, 79, before suddenly turning when he was overcome by tears. His father, a French resistance fighter, died in the camp.
Leon Schwarzbaum, 100, sat quietly waiting for the trial to begin in the courtroom, showing reporters a photo of him with his parents and uncle, who all died in Auschwitz.