A 101-year-old Nazi concentration camp guard was given a five-year sentence for complicity in the murders of prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp north of Berlin.
Josef Schütz became the oldest person to be put on trial for war crimes connected to the Holocaust in October. He was convicted Tuesday as an accessory in the deaths of more than 3,500 people.
Despite the defendant’s claims he knew nothing of the atrocities being committed within the walls of the Sachsenhausen camp, prosecutors argued Schütz “knowingly and willingly” enabled the systematic killings through his actions as a guard.
“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the conclusion of Monday’s hearing, according to The Guardian.
Schütz was 21 years old when he aided in the firing squad execution of Soviet war prisoners in 1942, prosecutors argued. He was also accused or abetting in the murder of prisoners gassed with Zyklon B.
More than 200,000 prisoners including Jews, gays and political prisoners were reportedly housed at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Schütz was stationed there for the final three years of the camp’s existence in the Brandenburg town of Oranienburg.
During his trial, Schütz claimed he was never a camp guard, but worked as an agricultural laborer during World War II. Documents presented as evidence reportedly identified Schütz as an SS guard.
Schütz’s attorney said he intends to appeal the verdict. Due to his advanced age, it’s reported to be unlikely Schütz would serve time in prison.
With News Wire Services