Central Council welcomes verdict in Sachsenhausen guard trial

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has welcomed the guilty verdict in the Brandenburg trial of a former Sachsenhausen concentration camp guard.

“Even if the defendant will probably not serve the full prison sentence due to his advanced age, the verdict is to be welcomed,” emphasised Central Council President Josef Schuster.

“The thousands of people who worked in the concentration camps kept the murder machinery running,” Schuster continued. “They were part of the system, so they should take responsibility for it.”

That the defendant denied his activities at the time until the very end and showed no remorse was particularly sickening, the Central Council declared. For the survivors of the Shoah and their descendants, the verdict is important to preserve their trust in the rule of law, it said.

In the Nazi trial against the former guard of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the 101-year-old defendant was sentenced this morning to five years in prison. Josef S. had “promoted terror and mass murder” with his work in the concentration camp, said presiding judge Udo Lechtermann at the sentencing in Brandenburg an der Havel on Tuesday. The defendant had also been aware of this. With his guard activity he had willingly supported the crimes in Sachsenhausen.

With the sentence, the Neuruppin Regional Court complied with the prosecution’s request. The defense counsel had requested an acquittal or, in the case of a conviction, a suspended sentence. Representatives of the plaintiffs’ side had argued for a prison sentence of at least five years.

The prosecution had charged Josef S. with aiding and abetting cruel and insidious murder in more than 3,500 cases. According to the investigations, he was on duty as an SS man in Sachsenhausen between October 23, 1941 and February 18, 1945. He himself denies this. More than 200,000 people were imprisoned in the concentration camp between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of them were murdered or perished in other ways.

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