Auschwitz guard charged

Alex Roos, Staffer

A 94 year old former Schutzstaffel (SS) guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp has been charged with the accessory to murder.The former SS guard is a German nationalist born in Siberia who hasn’t been identified by name. The guard was charged as a juvenile because at the time of the alleged charges he was 19. German authorities say he served as a guard at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1943. An estimated 13,335 people were sent to the gas chambers during that time.

The suspect stated via his lawyer he was not aware of what was happening or the details of the killings at Auschwitz at the time. The suspect was charged with accessory to murder because he helped the camp function.

The suspect, who served in a unit that handled newly arrived prisoners and assisted in determining who would be enslaved and who would be sent to die, was charged in connection with the slaughter of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz. The number of murders in which he was found to be complicit – 170,000 – was determined by matching his service records with transportation logs for Hungarian Jews.

Many survivors took the witness stand to testify about what they experienced at the camp.

“It was just like Dante’s Inferno,” Leon Schwarzbaum told a full courtroom in Detmold, Germany. His time as a prisoner at the camp overlapped with the time the suspect was a guard there.

Initially, the suspect refused to speak. But in April, as the trial entered its fourth and final month, he broke his silence. The New York Times reports that according to German public broadcaster WDR, the suspect said he “deeply regretted” having been part of a criminal organization that murdered millions of people.

“I am ashamed that I witnessed injustice and allowed it to continue without taking any actions against it,” the suspect said.

The suspect’s defense team had sought an acquittal in the case on the grounds that he had not personally “killed, hit or abused” anyone, according to the AFP. The plaintiffs said in a statement that the trial was “a big, even though a late, step towards a just examination of the mass murders in Auschwitz,” because it focused on the labor at the camp.