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  • Writer's pictureLaci Felker

Remnants of the Holocaust: Former Concentration Camp Guard to Be Tried

Originally published August 15, 2021, with Muses Nest, a defunct online human and woman's magazine.



The Holocaust is the genocide that everyone knows, whether through the news, documentaries, personal accounts from friends and family, or through school. The systematic persecution of Jews, Roma, homosexuals, people with disabilities, Slavic peoples, and Soviet prisoners of war lasted from 1933 to 1945 all across Europe. The Nazi Party rose to power under Adolf Hitler until the Allied Powers (now known as the United Nations) brought an end to the Nazi regime.


Following the end of World War II on September 2, 1945, the Nuremberg Trials were held from November 20, 1945, to October 1, 1946, in Nuremberg, Germany. Over that year, twenty-four war criminals were tried and prosecuted for their ties to the Nazi party and their complacency in war crimes. Following these trials, the International Criminal Court was developed, which is responsible for prosecuting people involved in international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. However, even though the Nuremberg Trials are over, that does not mean that those who actively participated in the genocide committed by the Nazis have been held accountable.


Recently, a 100-year-old man in Germany was deemed fit to stand trial for his crimes as a guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany. This man is not the first to have been arrested for his connection with the Holocaust this year, with another man and a woman having been accused of actively participating in the Nazi Party’s plans. In 2011, a precedent was set that anyone, despite whether they actively killed people themselves or not, could be held accountable for the genocide and war crimes committed because working at a concentration camp meant they were involved in the killing committed by the Nazis.


The number of people killed in the Holocaust has always been estimated as 6 million Jews. However, that number leaves out the rest of the persecuted population that is listed earlier. While historians today can estimate how many people were killed throughout World War II, there will never be an exact number. The former concentration camp guard is to stand trial for the killing of over 3,000 people at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. However, the question remains: is charging those who were active participants in the Holocaust enough?


The age-old saying that people need to be held responsible for their actions still stands, but some people believe that the charges against the former Nazis are fictitious and that the accused are only the newest people in the witch hunt. With World War II still on everyone’s mind and the 90-year remembrance only two years away, how can people come to understand that there are still repercussions permeating society because of what happened? Entire families have been lost, entire populations were nearly wiped out, and the physical and emotional toll that the Holocaust caused to people is still very much prevalent.


Many people like to believe that what happened “in the past” was “so long ago” and that “the world has changed,” when, in reality, 76 years was not that long ago. People still alive today know what it was like to live through Hitler’s reign, just as there are still alive who actively participated in it. There will never be an “end” to the Holocaust’s effects, just as there will never be “closure” for the people and their families who know firsthand what it was like.


Some may say that charging a 100-year-old man for crimes he committed in his twenties will not do anything, but they are wrong. The man to be charged actively participated in the systematic persecution of thousands of people. No matter his age, he deserves to be held accountable for what he knowingly and willingly did and it will bring some semblance of justice to the people whose lives have been forever changed by men like him. Many former Nazis cite not having a choice, like how Poland claims they were forced to have concentration camps, but no matter the circumstances, they still need to be held accountable for their actions.


He is to stand trial in October of this year.


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