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CRIME

Schoolchildren give away almost €15,000 found on the street

Four Frankfurt children found €15,000 in an old brown envelope on their way to school and then passed it out to all of their friends this week, a police spokesman told The Local on Thursday.

Schoolchildren give away almost €15,000 found on the street
Photo: DPA

The two boys and two girls between the ages of 10 and 13-years-old couldn’t believe their luck when they noticed the bundle on Espenstrasse en route to their Griesheim district school early on Tuesday morning.

When they opened it they found €15,000 and paperwork for a visa in China.

“They threw the envelope away and excitedly took the money and papers to school,” spokesperson Karlheinz Wagner told The Local.

There they distributed the money among their friends, but it wasn’t long before they began to feel uneasy and one of the group told a teacher what they had done.

“They will not be prosecuted or punished at school,” Wagner said. “They realised after awhile that it was wrong and came clean. And besides, they’re children.”

But collecting the money back from students proved to be much more difficult than its distribution, he confirmed.

By the time police arrived at the school, school authorities had collected only €12,000 and had to appeal to the students once again to return the money. They ended up with €14,040.

In the meantime police had contacted the owner of the identification the children found in the envelope. The 33-year-old Afghan citizen, who has lived in Offenbach for some time, told police that he had lost about €15,000, but couldn’t name the exact sum. He said the money was to pay a trip to China, tuition fees there, and to cover debt.

“If he can provide proof, such as bank account details, and investigators determine that he didn’t acquire the money illegally, he can have it back,” Wagner said.

German law dictates that anyone who discovers a large sum of money is entitled to three percent – which will go to the children when the owner is confirmed.

But if police don’t find the rightful owner the money will go to a lost property office.

“If no one claims it within a year or so the children will get the money,” Wagner said.

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CRIME

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, 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 at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

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

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

By David COURBET

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