More than 200,000 people were held at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of them died from starvation, disease, forced labor, abuse, and other causes. Medical experiments were also conducted in the camp.
In addition to prisoners of war and resistance fighters, the camp included Jews, Sinti, Roma, and gays.
Despite his advanced age, Joseph S. Fit enough to stand trial, according to authorities. However, the ex-guard can be present for a maximum of a few hours a day. For practical reasons, the trial took place in the prison gymnasium in the town of Brandenburg an der Havel, East Germany.
Little is known about S.’s life after the war. After returning from captivity in 1947, he is said to have lived a somewhat unknown life as a locksmith.
In the past decade, more camp guards from World War II have had to appear in court. It was the result of the sentencing of former SS man John Demjanjuk, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2011. Until then, the German judiciary had deemed it impossible to prove that SS men in low positions were complicit in the Nazi killing machine.
Last Thursday, the trial of a 96-year-old woman suspected of war crimes was due to begin in the Nazi concentration camp Stutthof, in present-day Poland.
On the morning of the first day of the trial, the woman was hit on the run, by taking a taxi from her retirement home to a metro station. Arrested by the police on the same day. The first day of her court hearings has been postponed to October 19.
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