Nazi criminal charges: German Woman Charged Auschwitz
Published: September 22, 2015
Nazi criminal charges: German Woman Charged Auschwitz, A 91-year-old woman has been charged with 260,000 counts of accessory to murder on allegations she was a member of the Nazi SS who served in Auschwitz, German prosecutors claim.
Schleswig-Holstein prosecutors’ spokesman Heinz Doellel said Monday the woman is alleged to have served as a radio operator for the camp commandant Rudolph Hoess, who was hanged after the war for his crimes against humanity, from April to July 1944.
Prosecutors argue that the accused, whose name wasn’t disclosed due to German privacy laws, can be charged as an accessory because she helped the death camp function.
Doellel says there are no indications the woman is unfit for trial, though a court likely won’t decide on whether to proceed with the case until next year.
Her duty rosters show she was in his service from April until Juli 1944 and the indictment states ‘she was a helper in the systematic murder of the Jews transported there.’
‘There is sufficient evidence against her,’ added the prosecutor.
The woman’s name allegedly appeared on lists of Auschwitz subjects in the 1970’s but not no living witnesses could be found to testify against her.
If she is judged medically fit to stand trial – numerous Auschwitz personnel have evaded prosecution in the past two years by pleading the dementia card – she will be tried at a court in Kiel.
In July, 94-year-old former SS sergeant at Auschwitz Oskar Groening was convicted on the same reasoning earlier this year.
He received a sentence of four years in prison after being found guilty of 300,000 counts as an accessory to murder.
Oskar Groening testified during his trial at the state court in Lueneburg, in northern Germany, that he guarded prisoners’ baggage after they arrived at Auschwitz and collected money stolen from them.
Presiding Judge Franz Kompisch said Groening had decided to be part of the Nazis’ machinery of death.
The charges against Groening related to a period between May and July 1944 when hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi-occupied Poland. Most were immediately gassed to death.
Unusually for trials of former Nazi camp guards, Groening was open about his past throughout the proceedings.
Groening said when his trial opened in April that he bears a share of the moral guilt for atrocities at the camp but that it was up to judges to determine whether he is guilty under criminal law.
In their verdict, judges went beyond the 3 ½-year sentence prosecutors had sought. Groening’s defense team had called for him to be acquitted, arguing that as far as the law is concerned he did not facilitate mass murder.
Kompisch said Groening deserved respect for having been open about what he did and having testified, but that given the enormity of the crime it would have been inappropriate to impose a lower sentence.
The quest to prosecute Nazi war criminals has entered a new phase in recent years after a fundamental shift in legal strategy.
For many years, former Nazis were only prosecuted if there was clear evidence they had been directly involved in war crimes.
But the legal basis for securing a conviction has changed since recent successes by prosecuting former Nazis as accessories to murder – a threshold reached by proving they were a part of the Nazi’s highly organised killing machine.
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