A German court has sentenced Josef S. to five years in prison for complying to murder 3,500 prisoners
A 101-year-old man, whom the German authorities believe to have been a guard at the Sachsenhausen Nazi concentration camp, will spend the next five years behind bars, a court in the town of Brandenburg an der Havel ruled on Tuesday.
Josef S. was found guilty of aiding and abetting the murder of over 3,500 prisoners as well as attempted murder. In meting out the sentence, the judges accommodated the public prosecutor’s request.
The court found that the defendant served in a guard battalion stationed at the concentration camp from 1942 until 1945. Presiding Judge Udo Lechtermann noted that S. had “willingly supported the mass extermination” of camp prisoners.
During the process, defense attorney Stefan Waterkamp argued his client should be acquitted because the prosecutor’s office had failed to prove the defendant’s complicity in any one particular murder case.
According to the German media, 101-year-old Josef S. is the oldest Nazi criminal to stand trial in the country.
The man himself had maintained his innocence since the very beginning of the process in October 2021. In his last words, S. insisted he had not worked at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
The court hearings were held at a sports hall near the elderly defendant’s place of residence.
The process had to be suspended several times due to the man’s health issues.
According to the indictment, S. was found complicit in the execution of inmates, including Soviet prisoners of war, by firing squad and poisonous gas. Moreover, the very conditions in which the inmates had been held were found to be life-threatening by the court. However, the defendant was found not guilty of personally murdering any of those people.
According to the information displayed at the memorial at Sachsenhausen, more than 200,000 people went through the concentration camp between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands never made it out alive, dying of hunger, disease, forced labor, medical experiments, or systematic extermination.