Sentenced to age 101 for aiding executions in Nazi gas chambers. More than seventy years after the end of the Second World War, German justice has imposed five years in prison on a former Nazi concentration camp warden, Josef Schuetz, the oldest person so far accused of complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust . The sentence was handed down at the end of a trial in a Brandenburg court in Germany.
The man is accused of participating in the killing of 3,518 prisoners in Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945. The charges include aiding and abetting the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942. “and the murder of prisoners” using Zyklon B gas “.
Schuetz, who was 21 at the time, pleaded innocent, saying he had done “absolutely nothing” and was unaware of the gruesome crimes committed in the concentration camp. “I don’t know why I’m here,” he said at the end of the trial. But prosecutors say he “knowingly and voluntarily” participated in the crimes as a camp keeper. His lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, ;; told AFP that an appeal will be filed, meaning the sentence will not be enforced until 2023. During the trial, Schuetz had made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining about the fact. that his head was “getting confused”. At one point, he said he worked as a farm worker in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents. After the war, Schuetz was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and blacksmith.
More than 200,000 people including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gays were detained in Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of inmates died from hard labor, murder, medical experiments, starvation or disease before the camp was liberated by the Soviets, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.
Until now, the German justice system has issued several guilty sentences against surviving Nazi criminals. These included Oskar Groening, an accountant in Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard in Auschwitz. Both were sentenced at the age of 94 for complicity in the mass murder, but died before they could be imprisoned.