After his mass murder trial was postponed three times for health reasons, a 95-year-old former SS medic has finally gone on trial in Germany.
Hubert Zafke was accused in the Neubrandenburg court in north-eastern Germany of assisting in the killing of 3,681 people at the Auschwitz death camp during the one month he was there from August 15 to September 14, 1944. He served in the medical unit at Auschwitz.
Hubert Zafke argues that he treated only wounded soldiers and members of the SS. Prosecutors say that, like other SS guards at Auschwitz, Mr Zafke was well aware of the camp's function as an industrial-scale mass murder site and that thousands of people died while he was there.
The chances of securing convictions for the last surviving Nazis have become harder as the remaining defendants are all now in their nineties. Even those convicted rarely go to jail as every case is delayed by ill health and the slow course of justice.
In June, a German court sentenced former Auschwitz guard Reinhold Hanning, 94, to five years in jail for being accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people. but an appeal to the federal court will probably keep him out of jail. This is what happened to a four-year jail term handed down to so-called “Book-keeper of Auschwitz” Oskar Groening, 95, in 2015. 92-year-old Helma M, the SS radio operator for the commandant at Auschwitz, was ruled unfit to stand trial on charges of being accessory to 260,000 counts of murder. Sobibor death camp guard John Demjanjuk was given five years in jail for helping in the murder of 28,000 Jews. He died in a nursing home in 2012 while still fighting the conviction.