AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Nazi guard Josef Schuetz

Former Nazi guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp sentenced to five years in prison.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

A 101-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison by a German court on Tuesday for serving as a Nazi guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp during World War II.

Josef Schuetz was convicted of 3,518 counts of accessory to murder, and is the oldest person to be charged with complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

During the trial, which opened in October, he denied working at the camp and claimed that he was a farm laborer in northeastern Germany during the Holocaust, according to an Associated Press account. He pleaded innocent, telling the court that he did “absolutely nothing” at the Nazi camp and had no knowledge about the crimes that took place there, Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported.

However, Neuruppin Regional Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence proving that he worked at Sachsenhausen, located north of Berlin. Prosecutors had documents relating to an SS guard with the accused man’s name and date and place of birth who had worked at the camp between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing, along with other documents.

The prosecution also argued that the former Nazi guard “knowingly and willingly” participated in murder while working at Sachsenhausen. He was accused of participating in the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and dispensing the “poisonous gas Zyklon B” in the camp’s gas chambers, among other allegations.

The prosecution was seeking a five-year prison term.

“The court has come to the conclusion that, contrary to what you claim, you worked in the concentration camp as a guard for about three years,” presiding Judge Udo Lechtermann said, according to German dpa news agency. “You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity.”

The trial took place in a gymnasium in Brandenburg/Havel, where the 101-year-old lives. He was capable of participating in the trial for about two and a half hours each day, and the proceedings were interrupted several times due to his health and hospital stays, the AP reported.

More than 200,000 people were imprisoned at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945, and tens of thousands of inmates died at the concentration camp.