A 91-year-old German woman, allegedly a member of the Nazi SS at the death camp Auschwitz, has been charged with 260,000 counts of being an accessory to murder. Her service allegedly helped the camp function, but even if the elderly woman is found guilty, there’s a reasonable chance that she’ll never see a day in prison.
The woman, whose name has not been released in accordance with Germany’s privacy laws, is accused of being the personal radio operator for commandant Rudolph Hoess at Auschwitz, according to the Express. Hoess was hanged for his war crimes.
According to the indictment from the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, duty rosters from the death camp show that she served from April to July in 1944. It also says “she was a helper in the systematic murder of the Jews transported there.”
The prosecutors claim that there is “sufficient” evidence the woman was an accessory; however, it still isn’t clear if she’ll actually go to court.
The Guardian says the state will decide if she’s mentally and physically fit to stand trial next year. Some former Auschwitz personnel have been able to avoid trial because of dementia and other ailments that accompany old age.
Oskar Gröning, 94, known as the accountant of Auschwitz, was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people – earning him a four-year prison sentence.
He was reportedly in charge of taking money and valuables from new arrivals to the camp along with basic bookkeeping. The judge called him an “integral cog” in the Auschwitz “extermination apparatus.” The trial set the precedent for further prosecutions according to CNN, like the one against the unnamed radio operator.
Nevertheless, he has yet to spend a day behind bars because of his extreme age.
Prosecuting and sentencing the German woman might have similar difficulties. Earlier investigations and trials also left some unsatisfied.
The Guardian reported after Gröning’s sentencing that 172,294 people have been investigated for Nazi war crimes, but only 6,657 have served prison sentences. Likewise, 6,500 Auschwitz personnel have been charged, with only 50 convicted.
The judge at Gröning’s trial explained that the Nazis’ final solution was “perfectly planned so that it had many different parts with the aim of making sure that no single person can be considered responsible for everything.”
As for the female radio operator, German prosecutors have said that there are no signs she is unfit for trial so far.
The German woman’s legal battle is likely one of the last Nazi trials as former SS members from Auschwitz and other death camps become too frail for prison and others die before being charged.
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