/Germany charges former death-camp guard

Germany charges former death-camp guard

The former Nazi death camp of Mauthausen in northern Austria, 23 November 2018Image copyright

Image caption

Tens of thousands were killed at Mauthausen

German prosecutors have charged a 95-year-old man with being an accessory to the deaths of tens of thousands of inmates at an Austrian Nazi death camp.

Identified only as Hans H for legal reasons, the Berlin resident is alleged to have been an SS guard at Mauthausen from mid-1944 to early 1945.

A statement from the Berlin prosecutor’s office accuses him of being part of the killing operation.

He is the latest of several former death-camp guards to face prosecution.

There is no word yet from the suspect or his lawyers.

Half of the 190,000 people held at Mauthausen, Austria’s largest Nazi death camp, were killed. Hans H is accused of being an accessory to the deaths of 36,223 of them.

The camp, 20km (12 miles) from the city of Linz, housed those considered enemies of the Nazi authorities.

Image caption

Mauthausen was Austria’s largest Nazi death camp

Many were worked to death through slave labour, gassed, shot, injected, starved or succumbed to freezing conditions.

The prosecutor’s statement says the accused, who served in a Nazi SS unit, was aware of “all the killing methods as well as the disastrous living conditions of the incarcerated people at the camp”.

It alleges he supported, or at least made “easier the many thousands of deaths carried out by the main perpetrator”.

It is now up to a Berlin court to decide if his case goes to trial.

Read more on Auschwitz and the Holocaust:

Other recent cases include that of Johann Rehbogen, 94, who went on trial on 6 November accused of complicity in mass murder at the Stutthof camp in what is now northern Poland.

Another legal case involves a 94-year-old former SS guard accused of aiding and abetting mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau. A court in Mannheim is deciding whether to go ahead with a trial.

Two more 94-year-olds, Oskar Groening and Reinhold Hanning, who were both at Auschwitz, were successfully convicted but died before serving prison sentences.

The legal basis for trying former death-camp guards changed in 2011 with the conviction of John Demjanjuk, a guard at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

His trial opened up the possibility of prosecuting former guards because they had been part of a death-camp operation, rather than needing to charge them with taking part directly in atrocities.