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In a few weeks, a 95-year-old former medic will be tried before the German state court. He is accused of complicity in the killing of nearly four thousand people. He worked as a medic in the troops of the SS death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

SS troops at Auschwitz-Birkenau

SS troops at Auschwitz-Birkenau – www.auschwitz.org

Since the end of the Second World War more than 70 years have passed. Very few crime suspects are now left to be judged. Before the fall of the Third Reich they were in their twenties, did not have important functions nor high military ranks. The last ones, who after years of avoiding trials against high-ranking war criminals will be judged by Germans, were merely low rank officers, guards, assistants, or accountants.

One of them is Hubert Zafke whose trial is to start at the end of February. He served in the troops of the SS at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oświęcim) for barely a month (from mid-August to mid-September 1944). He was a paramedic with the degree of SS-Unterscharführer (equivalent to platoon leader, the lowest level of NCO).

Within that short time of his service to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp came 14 trains with prisoners, many of which later died in the gas chambers. Zafke will be answering for aiding in the killing of 3681 of them.

One of these trains, according to “The Times of Israel” portal, transported Anna Frank from the Netherlands, where she was hiding with her family for two years, a teenage German Jew, the author of the most famous diary from the days of the Holocaust. Later she was taken to another camp, Bergen-Belsen, where she died in February 1945.

Zafke, wrote the German newspaper “Bild”, was, right after the war, sentenced to and spent four years in prison by a Polish court in Krakow.

The case of the SS-Unterscharführer from Auschwitz is unusual. After leaving the Polish prison Zafke lived in the GDR, and not in West Germany. And his lawyer is now, which was also published last year by “Bild”, a well-known figure from the former German Democratic Republic – Peter-Michael Diestel. This lawyer was also a politician just before and just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He was the last head of the GDR Ministry of the Interior (and the only deputy prime minister) in the government of Lothar de Maiziere.

 

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