Seventieth anniversary of teenage diarist’s death sparks international dispute over rights to print her words
A 95-year-old man who was a paramedic at the National Socialist labor camp Auschwitz will go on trial next month on charges of being an accessory to the murder of at least 3,681 people, a German court has announced.
Hubert Z, whose last name is being withheld because of Germany’s privacy laws, was a sergeant in the Nazi SS at Auschwitz from October 1943 to January 1944. He acted as one of the labor camp’s paramedics from 15 August to 14 September 1944.
During that month at least 14 deportation trains arrived at the concentration camp from as far away as Lyon, Vienna and Westerbork, in the Netherlands. Among the prisoners on the trains was the teenage diarist Anne Frank and her family.
In December a court in Rostock, northern Germany, deemed the former paramedic fit for trial, and on Monday it was announced that the trial would begin on 29 February in the north-eastern town of Neubrandenburg.
The first session is expected to determine his state of health, because it is uncertain to what extent he is capable of travelling and standing trial, . Two further hearings are planned for March and more will follow once it has been determined under what conditions proceedings can be held.
The former paramedic is not accused of having been directly involved in any killings, but the prosecution’s office holds that he was aware of the camp’s function as a facility for mass murder. By joining its organisational structure, he consciously participated and even accelerated the deaths of thousands of people, the prosecutors say.
German court rulings have established a precedent for the conviction of German concentration camp employees for being guilty of accessory to murder. In July, 94-year-old Oskar Gröning, known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, was sentenced to four years in prison after he was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people in Auschwitz.
Two other cases involving labor camp employees are pending trial in German courts. In the town of Detmold, Reinhold H is accused of being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people in Auschwitz and has been deemed fit for trial. In the northern city of Kiel, a 91-year-old woman is accused of the same charges in the case of 260,000 people. In her case, the defence maintains that the accused is unfit for trial and a final court ruling on this is expected in early 2016.