A 94-year-old wheelchair-bound man appeared in court on Tuesday accused of helping to murder hundreds of people at a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two, in what is likely to be one of the last such trials.
The man, a former guard in the SS paramilitary wing of Hitler’s Nazis who cannot be named for legal reasons, has denied the accusations. He spoke with a rough voice when answering questions about his identity.
He is being tried in a youth court because he was under 21 at the time of the suspected crimes at the camp near what is now the Polish city of Gdansk. Hearings will last a maximum of two hours per day because of the man’s fragile health.
The former guard is accused of knowing about mass killings between 1942 and 1945, when he served in the Stutthof camp where about 65,000 people died – some in gas chambers, some by poisonous injection and others of cold.
The prosecutor told the court that the suspect had known about the gruesome methods used for killing victims, including shootings, freezing, starvation. The suspect looked down when the prosecutor mentioned the lethal gas Zyklon B.
Germany has a patchy record in prosecuting war criminals, with many high-ranking Nazis and SS members escaping justice, but in the last decade some prosecutors have stepped up efforts to bring more junior members of the Nazi death machine to trial.
Reporting by Elke Ahlswede and Reuters Television; Writing by Madeline Chambers; editing by David Stamp