The Neubrandenburg state court in Germany on Monday started the trial of a 95-year-old former SS medic who served at the Auschwitz camp. Hubert Zafke is charged [AP report] with 3,681 counts of accessory to murder for a one-month period at the camp. Zafke’s trial was set to start in February, but the judge determined he was unfit to stand trial due to high levels of stress, high blood pressure and suicidal thoughts. The trial had also been postponed last year for concerns over Zafke’s health. At the outset of trial, plaintiffs accused the judge of being biased and petitioned for him to be removed. Zafke was removed after two hours due to a spike in blood pressure, and the judge has stated that arguments on the motion for his removal must be heard before another session in the trial can occur.
German courts have recently seen an increase of war crime charges against former members of the Nazi party. A court in Kiel, Germany, ruled Friday that a 92-year-old woman charged with Nazi crimes is unfit to stand trial [JURIST report]. Prior to 2011, German prosecutors often chose not to charge individuals they regarded as “cogs” in, rather than active members of, the Nazi war machine. The 2011 conviction [JURIST report] of former Nazi guard John Demjanjuk may have emboldened German prosecutors to pursue cases against all those who materially helped Nazi Germany function. In December a German court allowed [JURIST report] the trial of a 95-year-old Auschwitz paramedic accused of being an accessory to the murder of 3,681 people at Auschwitz. In September 2014 German authorities imprisoned Oskar Groening, known as the “accountant of Auschwitz,” who was charged [JURIST report] as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people. Last year Groening was given a four-year jail sentence for his role at Auschwitz, a sentence he said he would appeal [JURIST reports].