A man who allegedly worked at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland during the Second World War is facing trial in Germany.
The 93-year-old, who cannot be named because of privacy laws, stands accused of 170,000 counts of accessory to murder whilst working as an SS guard during the Nazis’ reign of terror according to The Local.
He is accused by the North-Rhine Westpalia centre of working at the infamous camp from January 1942 to June 1944, the Detmond state court said yesterday.
The prosecution claims the man was assigned to the Auschwitz 1 camp which was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners and began extermination in September 1941, but also worked in Auschwitz II-Birkenau which became the major site of the fascist’s Final Solution with an estimated 1.1 million prisoners dying there.
It is alleged the man helped supervise new prisoners, largely Jews, as they arrived from the trains where Jews were herded from over the Nazi occupied lands. Approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp.
His defence barrister said his client had acknowledged being at Auschwitz I but denied any involvement in the killings or being part of the Schutzstaffel who sent the prisoners to their deaths using the pesticide Zyklon-B.
As well as being accused of being a member of the SS Death’s Head guard battalion he is also alleged to have worked in ‘selection’ which involved deciding which newly arrived inmates should be sent to the gas chambers immediately and which could work in the forced labour camps.
He was never punished after the war, when the Allies liberated the camps and put many of the Nazi leaders on trial for war crimes after being cleared of involvement in 1948. However he has openly talked about his time working in the concentration camps and said he witnessed atrocities – although he stated he did not commit any himself.
In 2005 he told Der Spiegel magazine he saw one SS guard grab a crying baby by the legs.
“He smashed the baby’s head against the iron side of a truck until it was silent.”