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A former Auschwitz guard has been sentenced to five years in prison for helping kill 170,000 people

Reuters/Bernd Thissen
Reinhold Hanning waits for the verdict in Detmold, Germany.
By Jill Petzinger
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A German court has convicted 94-year-old Reinhold Hanning, a former guard at the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, of being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people. It is expected to be one of the last trials of Nazis involved in the Holocaust.

The judge sentenced Hanning to five years in prison, ruling that the former SS guard at the concentration camp from 1942 to 1944 was “aware that in Auschwitz, innocent people were murdered every day in gas chambers.”

Prosecutors alleged that Hanning supervised the selection of people for the gas chamber. His trial began in February.

Of 6,500 SS members who are known to have served at Auschwitz, only 49 were ever brought to trial in Germany. 

Hanning’s lawyers denied the charges; the International Auschwitz Committee called the denial “macabre and outrageous.”

In April, the former SS guard told the court (link in German) in the town of Detmold that he was “sorry,” adding: ”I deeply regret having listened to a criminal organization that is responsible for the deaths of many innocent people.”

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