A German federal court has charged a 95-year-old man for being partially responsible for the deaths of thousands of people during the Second World War. The individual, who has been identified only by his first name and surname initial (Hans H) for legal reasons, served as an SS guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp, in Austria. Although he was stationed there for only a brief period (second-half of 1944 to early 1945), the man has been accused of being an accessory to the death of thousands of inmates. More specifically, he is accused of the deaths of a staggering 36,223 people. Mauthausen was a relatively small death camp. Throughout the war, 190,000 people were interned there, an approximate half of whom were killed.
The federal prosecutor said that Hans H, who served in as an SS Rottenfuehrer, a rough equivalent of a corporal, was fully aware of “all the killing methods as well as the disastrous living conditions of the incarcerated people at the camp.” Consequently, he made “easier the many thousands of deaths carried out by the main perpetrator.”
According to the evidence, he served as an outer perimeter guard and as prisoner work detail guard. The defence lawyers have yet to make a statement. A federal judge will now decide whether to proceed with a trial. But even if the case proceeds, the former SS guard won’t see the inside of a prison cell. His advanced age and past cases suggest that he will either be confined in his residence or in a hospital until he dies. Nonetheless, it is something to know that despite how many decades might have passed, people are faced with the consequences of their actions.
Hans H is the latest of former SS camp guards to face prosecution. Lately, a series of WWII veterans have been called to answer for their contribution to the Nazi death machine that operated the concentration camps.
Situated 12 miles from the Austrian city of Linz, Mauthausen contained mainly political opponents of the Nazi regime. It was part of a death-camp complex that was comprised of more than 100 additional subcamps. Thousands of inmates were worked to death, receiving minimal, if any, food whilst living in abdominal conditions. ‘Luckier’ ones received a quicker death either by an injection, bullet, or in a gas chamber.
During the reign of the Nazis, around six million Jews were murdered. Most of them came from Eastern Europe, namely Poland, Hungary, and the Soviet Union. Three concentration-extermination camps (Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Belzec) were responsible for most of the killings. In addition, millions more Soviet prisoners of war, political opponents, Roma, and others were killed.