Former Nazi camp guard dies at 102

The accused Josef S. covers his face as he sits at the court room in Brandenburg, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. The 100-year-old man charged as an accessory to murder on allegations that he served as a guard at the Nazis’ Sachsenhausen concentration camp during World War II. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The oldest person to be convicted of crimes committed during the Holocaust died at the age of 102 in April.

Josef Schütz was found guilty last June of assisting in the murder of thousands of prisoners at Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp near Berlin, between 1942 and 1945. He was given a five-year prison sentence but remained free while he awaited the outcome of an appeal to the Federal Court of Justice. He died in April, having not spent time in jail at all, reports the BBC.

Despite his name and birth details being found on the documents of an SS guard, Schütz had always denied being an SS guard at the Nazi concentration camp; he claimed he had not been at the camp and worked instead as a farm labourer. He was found guilty of aiding and abetting the murder of 3,518 people. He was also complicit in shooting Soviet prisoners of war and the murder of others with Zyklon B gas.

More than 200,000 people were imprisoned at Sachsenhausen during World War Two, including political prisoners as well as Jews, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies). Tens of thousands died from starvation, forced labour, medical experiments and murder by the SS.

Schütz expressed no regret during his trial, telling the German court: „I don’t know why I’m sitting here in the sin bin. I really had nothing to do with it.”

Since the landmark case of ex-SS guard John Demjanjuk in 2011, Germany has been trying to bring former Nazi war criminals to court. In 2015, the so-called „bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, Oskar Gröning, was given a four-year jail term, though he died during the series of appeals and never spent time in jail. Last year, 97-year-old former concentration camp secretary Irmgard Furchner was the first woman to be tried for Nazi crimes. She was found guilty of complicity in the murder of more than 10,500 people at the Stutthof concentration camp near the city of Danzig.


Photo credit: AP