BERLIN (Reuters) - A 95-year-old former paramedic at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz will go on trial in Germany next month on charges of being an accessory to the murder of at least 3,681 people, a German court announced on Monday.
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 death camp’s paramedics from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14, 1944.
During that month, at least 14 deportation trains arrived at the extermination camp from places 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. Anne and her sister were later transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
The trial of the former paramedic will begin on Feb. 29 in the northeastern town of Neubrandenburg after a court in Rostock in northern Germany deemed him fit for trial in December.
Because it is uncertain to what extent he is capable of gravelling and standing trial, the first session is expected to determine his state of health, the court said.
Two further hearings are planned for March and more will follow once it has been determined under what conditions proceedings can be held, the court added.
Although the former paramedic is not accused of having been directly involved in any killings, the prosecution’s office holds that he was aware of the camp’s function as a facility for mass murder. By joining its organizational 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 Nazi concentration camp employees for being guilty of accessory to murder.
In July, 94-year-old Oskar Groening, 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 death 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 defense maintains that the accused is unfit for trial and a final court ruling on this is expected in early 2016.
(This version of the story corrects to make clear in fourth paragraph that Anne Frank did not die at Auschwitz; also edits first paragraph)
Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Larry King