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95-year-old alleged SS guard charged as accessory to 36,000 murders at Nazi concentration camp

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SS officers at Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, October 1941. The suspect in the latest prosecution was allegedly an SS guard at Mauthausen. (German Federal Archives)

A 95-year-old man who was allegedly an SS guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp has been charged for his crimes in Berlin, reports CBS news, via the AP. The suspect is charged as an accessory on 36,000 counts of being an accessory to murder.

The last name of suspect Hans Werner H. has not been released. He is accused of being a guard at the German death camp, located in Austria, from 1944 to 1945.

The prosecutor, Martin Steltner, told the AP that "in [the suspect's] service as a guard he aided or at least made easier the killing of many thousands of inmates," but denies the allegations.

A particularly interesing point from CBS:

Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, noted that Wiesenthal himself was an inmate at Mauthausen when it was liberated by Americans in May 1945. Wiesenthal died in 2005 after devoting his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals so they could be brought to trial.

The Hill points out that this indictment comes only months after another suspect, Jakiw Palij, was deported from the United States to face trial. The 95-year-old Palij was believed to be the last surviving Nazi war crimes suspect in America.

New precedent in Germany has set the stage for these late prosecutions, under the legal reasoning that guards who helped the camps to function, and were aware of what that meant, can be charged as accessories. Another man, 94-year-old Johann Rehbogen, went on trial earlier this month in Germany for his alleged role as a guard at the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland from June 1942 to around September 1944.

You can read more about it here.

Justice has taken decades to find its way to these alleged guards, who participated in genocide. But it is right, however late, that it be served.

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