A 94-year-old former SS sergeant who served as a guard at Auschwitz has been found guilty of more than 170,000 counts of accessory to murder for helping kill 1.1 million Jews and others at the Nazi death camp. The state court in Detmold, Germany, sentenced Reinhold Hanning to five years in prison, though he will remain free while appeals are heard, reports the AP. Hanning showed no reaction as the judge read her justification for the verdict and sentence, describing his "important function" at the camp. "You were part of a criminal organization and took part in criminal activity," she said. Some 58 Auschwitz survivors or their families were co-plaintiffs in the case and several testified during the four-month trial.
Hanning admitted to joining the Hitler Youth at age 13, volunteering for the SS in 1940 at age 18 and serving as an Auschwitz guard from January 1942 to June 1944 after becoming injured in Kiev in 1941. "It disturbs me deeply that I was part of such a criminal organization," he said in April. "I am ashamed that I saw injustice and never did anything about it and I apologize for my actions." Prosecutors sought a six-year sentence, while Hanning's defense had called for an acquittal, saying there is no evidence he killed or beat anyone. An Auschwitz survivor says he doesn't want Hanning to go to prison but had hoped that he would provide more details about his time in Auschwitz for the sake of educating younger generations.