Joseph Schuetz, the oldest Nazi to be successfully prosecuted for Holocaust atrocities, died aged 102 – before he could be jailed for his crimes. The former concentration camp guard was more than 100 years old when he was found guilty on more than 3,500 charges of being an accessory to murder during World War 2.
He was sentenced to five years behind bars – but stayed out of jail after lodging an appeal.
He had denied any involvement while working for the SS at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg in East Germany.
However, the state court in Neuruppin nevertheless uncovered proof that he was a member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing on the outskirts of Berlin from 1942 to 1945.
During his trial, he insisted: “I don’t know why I’m sitting here in the sin bin. I really had nothing to do with it.”
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Undeterred, prosecutors said he had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942”, as well as killing prisoners using Zyklon B.
A legal precedent set in 2015 decrees that anyone involved in helping a Nazi camp function is liable for prosecution in Germany for being an accessory to murder.
Speaking after Schuetz’s conviction, a judge told him: “You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity.
“You watched deported people being cruelly tortured and murdered there every day for three years.”
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Germany has brought multiple former Nazi war criminals to court following a landmark case in 2011, in which ex-SS guard John Demjanjuk was found guilty of war crimes.
His trial resulted in a search for other individuals who were still alive.
In 2015, Oskar Groning was handed a four-year jail term, duding three years later.
In December 2022, Irmgard Furchner, 97, became the first woman to be tried for Nazi crimes in decades.
She found guilty of complicity in the murders of more than 10,500 people at Stutthof camp, where she worked as the concentration camp secretary.
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