A German court on Tuesday sentenced 101-year-old Josef Schütz to five years in prison for being an accomplice in the murder of thousands of people while he was a guard at a concentration camp. Schütz is the oldest person to be tried for Nazi crimes.
He assisted in the murder of 3,518 prisoners between 1942 and 1945 at the Sachsenhausen camp, north of Berlin.
“Mr Schütz, you played an active role for three years in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where you were an accomplice in mass murder,” said court president Udo Lechtermann.
The magistrate stated that, by his presence at the scene, the accused supported the actions carried out in the concentration camp.
“All the people who wanted to flee the camp were shot. Therefore, any guard in the camp took an active part in the killings,” the judge said.
At the time of reading the sentence, which is longer than the three years provided for in German law in cases of complicity in murder, the accused showed no emotion.
“I’m ready,” Schütz said hours earlier, when he was wheeled into the courtroom.
The defense lawyer had already announced that in the event of a very harsh sentence he would file an appeal, which would delay the execution of the sentence until the beginning of 2023. Given the advanced age and fragile health of the accused, who appeared free at the process, it is unlikely that he will be arrested.
At no point in the case’s nearly 30 hearings did the defendant express the slightest sign of regret.
Last Monday (27), before the end of the trial, he again denied any responsibility.
“I don’t know why I’m here. I tell the truth. I have nothing to do with the police and the army, everything that has been said is false,” said the accused, his voice trembling.