A 101-year-old German was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted on over 3,500 counts of accessory to murder over his role as a Nazi guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

"You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity," Judge Udo Lechtermann told the man, according to the Associated Press. "You watched deported people being cruelly tortured and murdered there every day for three years."

The man, identified as Josef S. by German media, denied working at the camp throughout the trial, claiming that he worked as a farm laborer between the 1942 and 1945 years in question.

But the court concluded that the prosecution was able to prove the man enlisted as a member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing, using SS guard documents containing the man's name, birth date, and place of birth, and other documented evidence to place him as a guard at the camp.


The accused Josef S. covers his face as he sits at the court room in Brandenburg, Germany, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. 

The accused Josef S. covers his face as he sits at the court room in Brandenburg, Germany, Tuesday, June 28, 2022.  (AP Photo/Michele Tantussi)

"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," Lechtermann told the man, adding that his work there had helped the Nazis murder thousands.

The judge granted the prosecution's request for a five-year prison sentence, while the defense sought an acquittal and vowed to appeal the verdict.

The verdict comes as German legal precedent has evolved in recent years to charge people who played a role in assisting the Nazi genocide, often charging people such as guards and secretaries that worked for concentration camps with accessory to murder.

Josef S. has his face covered by a lawyer in a court room

Lawyer Stefan Waterkamp covers the face of accused Josef S. as they arrive at a courtroom in Brandenburg, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. The 100-year-old man is charged as an accessory to murder on allegations that he served as a guard at the Nazis' Sachsenhausen concentration camp during World War II. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The most recent prosecution was celebrated by German Jewish organizations, who say bringing people involved with concentration camps to justice grants a sense of closure to the families of the victims.


"Even if the defendant will probably not serve the full prison sentence due to his advanced age, the verdict is to be welcomed," Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told AP.

"The thousands of people who worked in the concentration camps kept the murder machinery running. They were part of the system, so they should take responsibility for it," he added. "It is bitter that the defendant has denied his activities at that time until the end and has shown no remorse."