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Accused Nazi death-camp guard claims he was a farmer

December 2, 2021

The 101-year-old defendant said he worked at a small factory and then a farm during World War II. He has denied ever being at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

Defendant Josef S.
Defendant Josef S.Image: Markus Schreiber/AP Photo/picture alliance

A 101-year old man accused of being a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp spoke out on Thursday for the first time since his trial began.

In a statement read by his defense lawyer, Josef S. declared that he was a laborer at a factory and farm, not an SS watchman who aided in the murder of thousands of prisoners between 1941 and 1945 as the prosecution alleges.

He told the court that he worked for a "small company" producing spare parts for the Nazi regime, before going to work on a large farm in northern Germany. When the presiding judge asked if he had ever worked in a Nazi uniform, he said no.

Thomas Walther, a spokesman for the prosecution, called the defendant's story "not credible" and "an escape from reality...a denial of his life."

Prosecutors relied on expert evidence from historians as well as primary source documents that show someone with the same name and place of birth as the defendant was listed as an SS watchman at the Sachsenhausen camp.

Doctors have said the man, whose full name has not been disclosed due to German privacy rules, is only partially fit to stand trial: court sessions are limited to two and a half hours each day.

Shielding his face from photographers as his trial began in October, Josef S. has protested his innocence from the outset.

In recent years, Germany has been rushing to make sure any living participants in the Nazi death machine are brought to justice. 

es/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)