98-year-old charged with accessory to murder during Holocaust

The entrance to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
(Image credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

A 98-year-old German man was charged Friday with accessory to murder for his alleged role during the Holocaust.

Authorities alleged that the unidentified man was complicit in the deaths of more than 3,300 people while working as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp between 1943 and 1945. While stationed at Sachsenhausen, the man allegedly "assisted in the cruel and insidious killing of thousands of prisoners," prosecutors from the city of Giessen said. A state court will decide whether or not to send the man to trial — if he is, he will be tried in juvenile court, prosecutors said, because he was a minor at the time of the Holocaust.

While the details of the guard's alleged transgressions weren't released, lawyer Hans-Jürgen Foster told German outlet Der Spiegel that the guard was "a specific aspect of the conditions which were hostile to life, that prevailed throughout the entire concentration camp complex." Thomas Hauburger, Giessen's chief prosecutor, added that the man "aided the cruel and perfidious killing of thousands of prisoners."

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More than 200,000 people were interned at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945, according to the camp's official memorial website. Many of these inmates were "forced to work in workshops and factories owned by the SS in the camp's industrial yard as well as in various punishment details." Thousands of inmates died "as a result of hunger, disease, forced labor, medical experiments and mistreatment," in addition to those murdered during "systemic extermination operations" by the Nazis.

The charging of a nonagenarian with crimes related to the Holocaust is not unprecedented. A 96-year-old German woman was brought to court in 2021 on charges stemming from her time as a stenographer at the concentration camp in Stutthof. And last year, a 101-year-old former Nazi guard was sentenced to five years in prison for murders during the Holocaust.

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.