Former SS medic, 95, goes on trial for helping to kill 3,700 Jews at Auschwitz
A former SS medic has refused to speak after going on trial for helping to kill 3,700 Jews at the Auschwitz death camp.
The trial of Hubert Zafke, 95, was scheduled to start in February at the Neubrandenburg state court in northeastern Germany.
But the case was postponed three times after presiding Judge Klaus Kabisch determined Zafke wasn’t well enough to participate based on a doctor’s assessment.
Among other things, the retired farmer suffered from stress and high blood pressure and had suicidal thoughts, the court was told.
Zafke was examined again on Monday morning ahead of the court session, and Kabisch decided to proceed.
The pensioner was pushed into court in a wheelchair, holding a wooden cane in his hand, and made no comment as the charges against him were read out.
Prosecutors and attorneys representing Auschwitz victims and their families who have joined the trial as co-plaintiffs, as allowed under German law, said they would still file motions accusing Kabisch of bias for his previous rulings on Zafke’s health.
However, Kabisch put off hearing those motions and said he intended to examine the issue of Zafke’s health further, dpa reported.
Zafke is charged with 3,681 counts of accessory to murder for helping the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp function.
The charges stem from a one-month period in 1944 and involve the deaths of Jews who arrived in 14 train transports, among them one that brought Anne Frank and her family to the camp.
Anne Frank died later at Bergen-Belsen, and Zafke is not charged over her death.
Zafke’s unit was involved in putting gas into gas chambers to kill Jews and others, screening blood and other samples from hospitalised women prisoners, and otherwise helping the camp run by treating SS guard personnel.
They say the unit was also involved in auxiliary guard duties.
Zafke’s attorney insists his client was just a medic who did nothing criminal at Auschwitz.