Waffen SS Volunteer Now 93 Is Charged Over Auschwitz MurdersKarin Matussek
A 93-year-old man German prosecutors said was a Waffen-SS volunteer at Auschwitz during World War II was charged with aiding in the murder of at least 300,000 people.
The man, who wasn’t identified, disposed of the luggage new prisoners left on train tracks at the concentration camp, Sabine Stuenkel, spokeswoman for Hanover prosecutors, said in an e-mailed statement today.
The goal was to “hide traces of the mass murder for subsequent inmates,” Stuenkel said. “Above all, his task was to count banknotes taken from the luggage and transfer them to the SS’s economy and administration agency in Berlin.”
Last year, Germany’s central Nazi crime investigation unit asked prosecutors around the country to investigate 30 former guards at Auschwitz. The unit started looking into additional suspects after John Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison in 2011 for aiding the Nazis in the murder of at least 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp.
The man charged by Hanover prosecutors knew the inmates who were selected upon arrival and classified as “not capable of working,” most of them Jews from Hungary, would be put to death in the gas chamber, prosecutors said. The money he collected helped fund the Nazis and supported the systematic killings, Stuenkel said.
Between May 16, 1944, and July 11, 1944, at least 137 trains arrived at the camp carrying about 425,000 people from Hungary. Prosecutors limited the case to the Hungary complex because of legal and evidentiary reasons, according to the statement.
Frankfurt prosecutors first investigated the unidentified man about three decades ago, but closed the case in 1985 due to a lack of evidence, Stuenkel said. Hanover prosecutors closed three similar cases because the suspects died or were found unfit to stand trial, she said.
A court in Lueneburg must rule whether the case can proceed to trial. Sixteen survivors or relatives of the victims have asked to be added as co-plaintiffs.
The Nazis killed an estimated 6 million Jews in death camps throughout Europe during the war. Auschwitz, in a part of Poland annexed by Germany, was the largest of the camps and became a symbol of the tragedy of the holocaust.
The Demjanjuk verdict triggered a new wave of investigations after the judges veered from previous cases that required proof of individual acts. In Demjanjuk’s case, the court said it was enough to show he worked at the camp where everyone was involved in the mass killings.