BERLIN (JTA) — A former SS member, now 93, was charged in Germany as an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people, mostly Jews, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
The district court of Detmold must now decide whether to allow the prosecution to proceed after charges were filed Monday. The man, one of several former guards who have been investigated and charged in recent months, has not been named.
The man reportedly has admitted to being stationed at the camp from early 1942, but he denies having any involvement in murder, according to the state prosecutor of Dortmund.
Investigators say the accused was involved in murders from January 1943 to June 1944 involving Jews deported from Hungary, mass shooting operations and the “selection” of ill and weak deportees on the arrival ramp for extermination, the German broadcasting agency WDR reported. He also allegedly knew that the systematic murder could not have taken place without assistants like him, according to the charge.
It is possible that the accused will not be tried due to his age. Similar cases were dropped in 2014 for that reason, WDR reported.
An investigation was opened recently against a 93-year-old woman in Hamburg, Hilde Michnia, for her role as an SS guard during a death march. She has denied participating in any atrocities.
In the city of Luneburg, former Waffen SS member Oskar Groening, also 93, has admitted to being a guard at Auschwitz and expressed shame for having been “a cog in the killing machine that eliminated millions of innocent people.” He allegedly was involved with removing luggage from the arrival platform, so that new arrivals would not see evidence of the murder of those who had preceded them.
Clues leading to about 30 suspects in late 2013 came from the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes in Ludwigsburg, which made a major push to identify former death camp guards after the conviction of John Demjanjuk in 2011 for his role in the murders of nearly 30,000 Jews in the Sobibor concentration camp in Poland.
The case set the precedent that being a guard at a death camp was sufficient to prove complicity in murder.