Nazi Camp Guard Convicted at 101

Josef Schuetz gets 5 years for accessory to murder
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2022 7:28 AM CDT
Nazi Camp Guard Convicted at 101
The 101-year-old accused Josef Schuetz covers his face as he sits at the court room in Brandenburg, Germany, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Michele Tantussi)

A 101-year-old former guard at a Nazi concentration camp, who was the oldest Nazi criminal ever to stand trial in a German court, has been sentenced to five years in prison. The man identified by AFP as Josef Schuetz, who worked at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin from 1942 to 1945, was found guilty of aiding and abetting the murders of 3,518 people by firing squad and Zyklon B gas, per the BBC. He denied he was an SS guard throughout the lengthy trial, which began in October and was repeatedly interrupted for health reasons and hospital stays, claiming instead that he spent those years as a farm laborer near Pasewalk.

"I don't know why I'm sitting here in the sin bin. I really had nothing to do with it," he said in his closing statement of the trial in Brandenburg an der Havel. Judge Udo Lechtermann said the evidence—including SS documents carrying Schuetz's name and birth details—showed he not only worked at the camp as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party's paramilitary wing but "willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity," per the AP. "You watched deported people being cruelly tortured and murdered there every day for three years." After the war, he was taken to a Soviet prison camp. He later returned to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and locksmith, per AFP.

"He is unlikely to serve any of his sentence as Germany's highest court will first have to rule whether to allow his appeal, and that will take several months," per the BBC. "Even if the defendant will probably not serve the full prison sentence due to his advanced age, the verdict is to be welcomed," said Josef Schuster of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, per the AP. "The thousands of people who worked in the concentration camps kept the murder machinery running. They were part of the system, so they should take responsibility for it." More than 200,000 people were imprisoned at the camp between 1936 and 1945, tens of thousands of whom died. (Read more Nazis stories.)

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