(JTA) — The oldest former Nazi camp guard ever put on trial in Germany has died while waiting for an appeal after being sentenced to five years in prison. He was 102.
Josef Schütz was found guilty last year of more than 3,500 counts of accessory to murder for serving as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.
During the hearings, Schütz, a non-commissioned officer of the Waffen-SS, repeatedly denied the charges against him, but prosecutors presented evidence placing him at the camp and showing that he shot and killed Soviet prisoners of war and assisted in murders using Zyklon B poison gas. Schütz was also accused of keeping prisoners in inhumane conditions.
Sachsenhausen opened in 1936 and initially held political prisoners. By the time it was liberated in 1945, some 200,000 prisoners had been held there, including Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “asocials” — including Roma and Sinti — and Soviet civilians.
Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have died at Sachsenhausen from systematic executions carried out by the Nazis, as well as from starvation, disease, forced labor and other causes.
“You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity,” presiding Judge Udo Lechtermann said while delivering Schütz’s guilty verdict. “You watched deported people being cruelly tortured and murdered there every day for three years.”
Because he died while appealing his verdict, Schütz was never imprisoned for his crimes. PJC