The Provincial Court of Münster, in western Germany, judges today an ex-guard of the Hitlerite SS, aged 94, for his alleged complicity in hundreds of deaths in the Nazi concentration camp of Stutthof, in Polish territory, between June 1942 and September 1944.
The accused, Johann R., born in Romania, he acknowledged having worked as a guard in that camp, located near the city of Gdansk, but claimed to know nothing of the murders that were committed there.
Prosecutors maintain that the defendant was aware of the brutal manner in which the prisoners died and claim that it also made the murders possible as a guard.
Sitting in a wheelchair, the defendant listened impatiently to prosecutors' descriptions of how hundreds of prisoners were killed in gas chambers or shot during alleged medical examinations.
In the trial, a total of 17 private plaintiffs, some from Israel and the United States, also participate in the trial.
The International Committee of Auschwitz greeted the beginning of the process. "We especially thank the survivors of the camp and their families for the courage and determination to declare as complainants in Münster", quotes a statement to the association's vice president, Christoph Heubner.
More than 27,000 people lost their lives in Stutthof until the end of the war in 1945. They were killed in the gas chambers, shot or poisoned. They died of cold, hunger, exhaustion due to forced labor and also due to lack of medical attention.