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A 101-year-old former Nazi guard was convicted in Germany of 3,518 counts of accessory to murder on Tuesday for his service at the Nazis' Sachsenhausen concentration camp during World War II.

The Neuruppin Regional Court reportedly sentenced the man to five years in prison. Josef S, as the man is identified, had firmly denied serving as an SS guard at the camp. During the trial, which began in October, the man claimed that he had worked as a farm laborer near Pasewalk in northeastern Germany during the period in question.

However, the court considered it proven that the man worked at the camp in Berlin between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party's paramilitary wing. He was found guilty of aiding and abetting the murders of a total of 3,518 people. "The court has come to the conclusion that, contrary to what you claim, you worked in the concentration camp as a guard for about three years," presiding Judge Udo Lechtermann said. "You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity."

The trial was held in a gymnasium in Brandenburg/Havel, near where the man resided. He was only fit to stand trial to a limited extent and was only able to participate in the trial for about two and a half hours per day. The trial was previously interrupted multiple times due to health reasons and hospital stays.

Josef S is unlikely to serve any of his sentence as Germany's highest court will first have to rule whether to permit his appeal, and that will take several months. He remained free for the duration of his trial. It was believed to be highly unlikely he would be imprisoned, given his age.

Thousands of people died at Sachsenhausen during World War II due to starvation, forced labor, medical experiments and murder by the SS. More than 200,000 people were imprisoned there, including political prisoners and Jews, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies).

Sachsenhausen was established in 1936 in the town of Oranienburg, just a short distance north of Berlin. It was considered the first new camp after Adolf Hitler gave the SS full control of the Nazi concentration camp system. It was initially intended to be a model facility and training camp for the labyrinthine network that the Nazis built across Germany, Austria and occupied territories.

Judge's Gavel
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