Ex-Nazi guard, 101, jailed for 5 years on 3,518 counts of conspiracy to murder

A 101-year-old man has been convicted of 3,518 counts of accessory to murder for serving at a Nazi concentration camp where shootings, hangings and gassing were commonplace.

The man, whose identity is protected by German law, is accused of being a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp during the Second World War.

The man had denied working as one of Adolf Hitler's SS guards at the camp and aiding and abetting the murder of thousands of prisoners but the Neuruppin Regional Court sentenced him to five years in prison.

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In the trial, which opened in October and was interrupted by medical problems, the man said that he had worked as a farm labourer near Pasewalk in north eastern Germany during the period in question.

However, the court considered it proven that he worked at the camp on the outskirts of Berlin between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party's paramilitary wing, the German news agency dpa reported.

"The court has come to the conclusion that, contrary to what you claim, you worked in the concentration camp as a guard for about three years," presiding Judge Udo Lechtermann said, according to dpa, adding that in doing so, the defendant had assisted in the terror and murder machinery of the Nazis.

"You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity," Judge Lechtermann said.

Prosecutors had based their case on documents relating to an SS guard with the man's name, date and place of birth, as well as other documents.

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For organisational reasons, the trial was held in a gymnasium in Brandenburg/Havel, the 101-year-old's place of residence.

The man was only fit to stand trial to a limited extent and was only able to participate in the trial for about two-and-a-half hours each day. The trial was interrupted several times for health reasons and hospital stays.

Sachsenhausen was established in 1936 just north of Berlin as the first new camp after Hitler gave the SS full control of the Nazi concentration camp system.

More than 200,000 people were held there between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of inmates died of starvation, disease, forced labour and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination operations including shootings, hangings and gassing.

Estimates of the exact numbers killed vary, with upper estimates of some 100,000, though scholars suggest figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.

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