Josef Schuetz was sentenced to five years in prison for working at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II
Photo by REUTERS
A German court has handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.
Josef Schuetz was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said in the Neuruppin Regional Court.
The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, saying he did ‘absolutely nothing’ and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.
“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the close of his trial.
But prosecutors said he ‘knowingly and willingly’ participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.
In the trial, which opened last October, Schuetz said that he had worked as a farm labourer near Pasewalk in north-eastern Germany during the period in question.
However, the court considered it proven that he worked at the camp on the outskirts of Berlin between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing. He was 21 years old at the time.
Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.