BERLIN (JTA) — A former SS member admitted in a German court to killing three civilians in Nazi-occupied Holland.
Heinrich Boere, 88, on Tuesday told the district court in Aachen that he shot the three in 1944, but that he was following military orders.
Boere, who had not denied his actions, said he had learned "as a simple soldier to carry out orders; and I knew that if I did not [do so] I would be breaking my oath, and would be shot myself," The Associated Press reported.
Boere said he was told that the shooting was in revenge for actions taken by the Dutch resistance, including the three civilians. He added that he had not seen his action as a crime, but that "today, 65 years later, I see it naturally from another standpoint."
Prosecutors have charged him with committing base murder.
Boere, a native of Germany, moved with his family to the Netherlands, where he served after joining the Waffen SS in 1940.
After the war he was found guilty of murder in Holland and fled to Germany. Meanwhile, the Dutch death sentence was commuted to a life term.
Boere was ruled fit to stand trial last July. He had told Focus magazine in April that he was following orders.
"It was not difficult: You just had to bend a finger," the magazine quoted him as saying.