Ex-Auschwitz Guard Will Stand Trial If Doctor Gives OK
'Reinhold H.' faces 170K counts of accessory to murder
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2015 8:23 AM CDT
Barbed wire surrounds barracks of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, June 25, 2015.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

(Newser) – A German court is waiting for a doctor's take to see if it can haul a 93-year-old man into court to stand trial on 170,000 counts of accessory to murder. Officially referred to as "Reinhold H." (though the British press has IDed him as Reinhold Hanning), the elderly man is alleged to have been a member of the SS Totenkopf division—sometimes translated as the "Death's Head" division—and a guard at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944. A court rep says it could take a few weeks to get Reinhold's health assessment back, though his lawyer is already saying his client isn't fit for trial. Although the suspect isn't accused of any specific killing, prosecutors say he helped select and funnel prisoners through the camp after they got there, the Guardian reports. Reinhold, meanwhile, insists he wasn't in the part of camp that carried out the killings, per the AP.

One person who isn't buying the not-competent play is Tommy Lamm, a 69-year-old man whose grandparents and great-uncle were exterminated at Auschwitz. "I am appalled to hear that he is trying to play the dementia card, to escape justice," he told the Daily Mail from his Jerusalem home. "This cannot happen." Lamm says his relatives spent several days on a crammed train after they were taken by the Nazis, then were gassed after arriving at Auschwitz. Their fate, and the role Reinhold H. may have played, leave Lamm short on sympathy for the suspect, despite his advanced age. "I don't care if they are 100 years old, or 150," he tells the Mail. "They deserve the same fate as they [meted] out." (Auschwitz recently made headlines for its so-called "heat-wave showers.")