German Justice System Pursues Two Suspected SS Affiliates

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A women lays down flowers at a commemoration stone in the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, northern Germany, on Friday, April 15, 2005.Credit: AP

German prosecutors are investigating a 93-year-old woman on suspicion of serving as a Nazi SS guard during World War II and being involved in forcing prisoners on a march during which about 1,400 women died. Meanwhile, in Hanover, another 93-year-old is going on trial over his part in the murders of at least 300,000 people at Auschwitz. 

Hamburg prosecutors' spokesman Carsten Rinio said on Monday that his office had begun the investigation of Hilde Michnia last week after a private citizen had filed a complaint against her as allowed under German law.

She is suspected of serving as a guard in the Bergen-Belsen and Gross-Rosen concentration camps, and having been part of evacuating the latter camp near the end of the war and forcing prisoners to march to the Guben labor camp farther west.

Michnia told Die Welt newspaper she hadn't been involved in any atrocities and only worked in the kitchens.

Meanwhile, another 93-year-old Oskar Groening is to appear before a German court on charges of assisting in the murders of at least 300,000 people when he was a volunteer for the Nazi SS during World War II, the public prosecutor's office in Hanover said Monday.

The trial is due to start in the district court of the northern city of Lueneberg on April 21, the prosecutor said.

Groening is accused of disposing of the luggage of recently arrived prisoners to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland in 1944.

The prosecutor said the defendant knew that the mostly Jewish prisoners who had been designated unfit to work would be killed in the gas chambers. He is accused of supporting the systematic murder of the inmates by his work.

Groening is believed to have worked on the railway ramp in the Birkenau section of the camp from May to July 1944 during the period known as the Hungary campaign. From May 16 to July 11 that year, 137 trains delivered 425,000 deported Hungarian Jews to the death camp.

The court has said that there are 55 joint plaintiffs in the case. The trial has been scheduled over 26 days through the end of July.

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