School officials cleared of blame in hidden girl case

School officials will not be penalised in the case of a developmentally disabled Lübbenow girl recently found to have been kept locked up by her parents since 2002, daily Berliner Morgenpost reported on Wednesday.

School officials cleared of blame in hidden girl case
Photo: DPA

“The headmistress remains in charge,” Education Minister for the state of Brandenburg Holger Rupprecht told the paper.

In 2002, the girl’s parents lied to the director at the Templin school for disabled children, telling her they had found a place for Jennifer in a private school in the state of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. According to ministry officials, the director believed the parents and did not inform the supervisory school authorities.

At that time Jennifer’s parents presented an official document to opt out of public schooling for their daughter, complete with confirmation from the private school. The school director believed that this document meant the family had already had their decision approved by the educational authority.

Brandenburg officials discovered the 13-year-old girl had been kept hidden by her parents on July 15. She never attended school or saw a doctor after her family moved from Berlin to the idyllic town. After the case emerged, the state Education Ministry said they had found records showing the girl had not been registered at school.

In July authorities said they were planning to institutionalise Jennifer at a therapy centre for disabled children. They initially took Jennifer’s two siblings into custody, but they have since returned to their home. Jennifer did not show signs of abuse when she was found.

The youth services committee in Uckermark county plans to hold a private meeting on August 27 to present the results of their investigation of the case.

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101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor