95-Year-Old Man Tried for Nazi War Crimes

A sepia photograph of the entrance to Auschwitz.

The entrance to the Auschwitz death cam[ | Shutterstock

A 95-year-old man who worked as a paramedic at Nazi camp Auschwitz will go on trial in February on charges of being an accessory to the murders of at least 3,681 people during World War II, says a German court. The man, currently identified only as Hubert Z., previously spent four years in a Polish prison for crimes committed during a different time in the war.

Z. was a sergeant in the Nazi SS at Auschwitz from October 1943 to January 1944. He was a paramedic at the camp from August to September of 1944. During the last month of his employment there. 14 deportation trains arrived from places as far away as Lyon and Vienna. One of those trains may have carried Anne Frank and her family.

Z.’s first trial for these charges is expected to begin on February 29th in Neubrandenburg. Though his health and mental state are being monitored, it remains uncertain whether he will be fit for travel and standing trial. Two further hearings are scheduled for March, with more to follow after once it has been determined how the trials can proceed.

The former paramedic is not accused or killing anyone directly, but the prosecution contends that he was aware that the camp was a facility for genocide. The argument is that by joining it, he actively and consciously contributed to the camp’s horrors.

Z. is unlikely to be the last Nazi official prosecuted, though most others are dead or likewise very old. Last summer, the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” Oskar Gröning, was sentenced to four years in prison for his relationship to the death camp. He is wanted on charges of being an accessory to the deaths of 300,000 people. Though he did not participate in the active genocide, like Z., he did help the camp run smoothly.

Indeed, Efraim Zuroff, a chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, hopes to track down more officials and bring them to justice. Every year the Center releases 10 names of its most wanted Nazis—Gröning was one of them in 2015.

Two other Nazi workers are also likely to stand trial soon: Reinhold H. of Detmold is accused of being an accessory to the deaths of 170,000 Auschwitz victims. In Kiel, a 91-year-old woman is accused of the same charges for 260,000 people. She may not be fit for trial and a final court ruling for her is expected early this year.

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