In the trial against an alleged former SS guard in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the public prosecutor’s office has demanded five years in prison for the 101-year-old accused. “They accepted the dehumanization of the victims and came to terms with it,” said senior public prosecutor Cyrill Klement on Tuesday in Brandenburg/Havel.
“I don’t believe this story ‘we knew nothing’.” The man was a cog in the wheelwork that made it possible to imprison and murder.
According to the indictment, the 101-year-old, who was a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp at the time, is said to have aided and abetted the murder of more than 3,500 prisoners between 1942 and 1945.
According to the public prosecutor, this is about complicity in the murder of Soviet prisoners of war with a shot in the neck, the murder of sick people through shots in the neck, murder through hostile conditions and murder through gassing. Shots in the back of the neck fulfilled the murder characteristic of insidiousness, the killings due to inhospitable living conditions that of cruelty, said Klement.
The defendant took the plea practically motionless. Only when it came to what the prosecution saw as an unequivocal activity as an SS guard in the concentration camp did it look for a moment as if he wanted to comment on it.
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So far, the accused has denied that he worked in the concentration camp at all. He stated that he was working as a farmhand near Pasewalk (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) at the time in question. He had been resettled from Lithuania to Germany in 1941 as a so-called Volksdeutscher.
Prosecutors base their charges on documents relating to an SS guard with the man’s name, date of birth and place of birth. Klement said the defendant was recruited by the SS in 1941. He cited several lists as evidence of his work in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. A letter from the father states that the son is with the SS in Oranienburg. An SS leader also wrote to the police in Pasewalk, as the mother explained, her son should currently be with the Waffen SS.
The chief prosecutor considers it possible that the son wanted to help the father with his work to go back to Lithuania.
In 1944 the accused was promoted to SS Rottenfuhrer – with personal responsibility. His duties included guarding the camp and preventing escape. “Not only did they come to terms with each other, they also made a career for themselves in Sachsenhausen concentration camp,” said Klement.
The penalty for the accused offense is between three and 15 years. The senior public prosecutor credited the accused with the fact that the crime was a long time ago, that he had not been guilty of anything in the meantime and that he had submitted to the proceedings.
The defense hopes for the shortest possible prison sentence. “Under normal circumstances (…) this sentence of three years would formally be the best possible result,” said defender Stefan Waterkamp. He wants to recommend his defendant a revision if a verdict with compulsory imprisonment comes out. According to previous plans, the defense’s plea is scheduled for June 1st.
Co-plaintiff lawyer Thomas Walther called the prosecutor’s request “quite appropriate”. “Those five years fit within the framework of convictions in recent years.”