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German prosecutors charge former Majdanek death camp guard

October 20, 2017

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2005 file photo watch towers and the barbed wire fence of the former Nazi death camp Majdanek are photographed outside the city of Lublin in eastern Poland. German prosecutors say friday, Oct. 20, 2017 they have charged a former guard at the Majdanek death camp with being an accessory to murder on allegations the 96-year-old served during a period when at least 17,000 Jews were killed. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)

BERLIN (AP) — A former guard at the Majdanek death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland has been charged in Germany with being an accessory to murder for allegedly serving there during a period when at least 17,000 Jews were killed, prosecutors said Friday.

The 96-year-old Frankfurt resident, whose name wasn’t released under German privacy regulations, is alleged to have served at the death camp near the Polish city of Lublin between August 1943 and January 1944.

Frankfurt prosecutors allege the man worked as a perimeter guard and in the camp’s guard towers as a 22-year-old member of the SS’s Death’s Head division.

“According to the known evidence, the suspect, as well as all other SS members of the camp, knew of the cruel and organized mass murder,” prosecutors said in a statement.

In particular, the indictment accuses the man of supporting the so-called Operation “Erntefest” — Operation Harvest Festival — on November 3, 1943.

On that day, at least 17,000 Jewish prisoners from the Majdanek camp and others who were being used as forced laborers in and around Lublin were shot in ditches just outside the camp. Music was blared from the Majdanek loudspeakers to mask the sound of the executions.

The Frankfurt resident charged Friday “contributed in his role as a perimeter guard and as a tower guard, and thus knowingly and deliberately aided” the killings, prosecutors said.

No trial date has been set.

More than 70 years after the end of World War II, German prosecutors continue to bring new cases against former Nazi war crimes suspects. Due to their advanced ages, the task of getting suspects to trial is getting increasingly difficult, but prosecutors have secured notable convictions in recent years.

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