Former SS guard at Auschwitz dies before prison term starts

Former SS guard at Auschwitz dies before prison term starts

Reinhold Hanning, 95, passes away before starting his five year term in jail, for his role in killing Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust

Reinhold Hanning
Reinhold Hanning

A 95-year old former SS guard at Auschwitz has died before beginning his prison sentence for being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people.

Reinhold Hanning, who was sentenced to five years in prison last June, had been found guilty for his role in the killing of Hungarian Jews at the death camp between 1942 and 1944, although he did not work in the area where Jews were killed.

Prosecutors calculated the number of prisoners killed during his stint there by examining surviving transport logs, and argued that anyone working at Auschwitz through that period “knew exactly what was going on”.

Hanning, who joined the Hitler Youth at the age of 13, told jurors last year that he still had nightmares, adding: “I am ashamed that I witnessed injustice and allowed it to continue without taking action. I am sincerely sorry.”

Before his trial, Holocaust survivor and former Auschwitz inmate Leon Schwartzbaum said: “I’ll look into his eyes and see if he’s honest, because the truth is most important. I don’t want revenge; I don’t want him tormented in prison. He’s just an old man like me. But I cannot forgive him.”

Up to two dozen prosecutions of those working in Nazi concentration camps are still underway, but all suspects are in their 90s.

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