German prosecutors on Friday charged a 95-year-old man with more than 36,000 deaths over his alleged time as a Nazi concentration camp guard during World War II. The accused has been identified as Hans H.
Hans H. is believed to have belonged to the 'SS-Totenkopfsturmbann' (Death’s Head Battalion) between summer 1944 and spring 1945 at Mauthausen, part of the Nazis’ vast network of concentration camps where inmates were forced to perform slave labour.
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Prosecutors argue that by working as a guard at the site, the accused contributed to tens of thousands of prisoner deaths.
During his time at the camp, at least 36,223 inmates died. Guards took part in killings by gas, fatal injections, gunfire, and other means, while many more prisoners died of hunger or frostbite, prosecutors said.
"The accused is believed to have been aware of all the methods of killing as well as the disastrous living conditions of the inmates," their statement said.
"It is believed that he knew these methods of killing were used against a large number of people and that they could only be killed in this way, with this degree of regularity, if the victims were guarded by people like him," they said.
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German law has evolved to hold former Nazi camp guards responsible for accessory to murder even if no evidence is present that they murdered a specific person.
A total of 200,000 people were held at Mauthausen, half of whom died before the camp's liberation by US troops in May 1945.