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WORLD WAR II

Berlin man, 95, charged with over 36,000 deaths at Nazi camp

German prosecutors on Friday charged a 95-year-old man with more than 36,000 counts of accessory to murder over his alleged time as a Nazi concentration camp guard during World War II.

Berlin man, 95, charged with over 36,000 deaths at Nazi camp
Austria's president Alexander Van der Bellen attends a memorial for the liberation of the Mauthausen

The allegations against the accused, identified only as Hans H., concern atrocities committed at the Mauthausen camp in Austria, the Berlin public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Hans H. is believed to have belonged to the SS-Totenkopfsturmbann (Death's Head Battalion) between summer 1944 and spring 1945 at Mauthausen, part of the Nazis' vast network of concentration camps where inmates were forced to perform slave labour.

Prosecutors argue that by working as a guard at the site, the accused contributed to tens of thousands of prisoner deaths.

During his time at the camp, at least 36,223 inmates died. Guards took part in killings by gas, fatal injections, gunfire and other means, while many more prisoners died of hunger or frostbite, prosecutors said.

“The accused is believed to have been aware of all the methods of killing as well as the disastrous living conditions of the inmates,” their statement said.

“It is believed that he knew these methods of killing were used against a large number of people and that they could only be killed in this way, with this degree of regularity, if the victims were guarded by people like him.”

A total of 200,000 people were held at Mauthausen, half of whom died before the camp's liberation by US troops in May 1945.

A Berlin court must now decide whether the case against Hans H. can proceed.

Germany has been racing to put on trial surviving SS personnel, after the legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis changed in 2011 with the landmark conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk.

He was sentenced on the grounds that he served as a cog in the Nazi killing machine at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland, rather than for murders or atrocities linked to him personally.

German courts subsequently convicted Oskar Gröning, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at the same camp, for complicity in mass murder.

Both men were convicted at age 94 but died before they could be imprisoned.

Earlier this month, a former Nazi concentration camp guard, Johann Rehbogen, went on trial in the western city of Münster accused of complicity in mass murder at the Stutthof camp in occupied Poland.

SEE ALSO: German ex-SS concentration camp guard, 94, weeps in court

Member comments

  1. Never again, should Germany, or any other country, stoop to that level of evil and horror. All because a crazed leader wanted retribution from a previous conflict. NEVER AGAIN!

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EUROPE

Germany making disputed Nazi war payments to over 2,000 people

Germany is still making payments to more than 2,000 people worldwide under a law that provides for "war victims", including those who collaborated with the World War II Nazi regime.

Germany making disputed Nazi war payments to over 2,000 people
Hitler in the Reichstag on May 4th, 1941. Photo: Deutsches Bundesarchiv/WikiCommons

Official data from the Labour Ministry showed that 2,033 people benefited from such payments in February.

Under the definition of the law, beneficiaries include individuals who suffered health problems from military or related service or internment because of their German citizenship or ethnicity during World War II.

SEE ALSO: Lawmakers call for end of pension payments to Nazi collaborators

Most of the beneficiaries live in Europe, with the highest number in Poland, where 573 are still receiving payments.

Other European countries with significant numbers of beneficiaries include Austria with 101, Slovenia with 184 and Croatia with 71.

In the Americas, 250 beneficiaries live in the US while 121 are in Canada.

Such payments came under scrutiny after Belgian lawmakers demanded that they be withdrawn for a handful of residents there.

Paying pensions for “collaboration in one of the most murderous regimes in history is in contradiction with collective remembrance” and against the values of the European Union, said the lawmakers, in a legislative text adopted on Tuesday.

To qualify for the payment, the individual must be able to prove an injury arising from WWII. He or she must not have been convicted for war crimes.

The law first came into force in 1950. But after it emerged that some former Waffen SS troops were also drawing benefits, an amendment was passed in 1998 blocking individuals who have commited crimes against humanity from receiving it.

Since 2008, however, individual German states which are responsible for making the payments are allowed to withdraw them.

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