• Germany's news in English

90-year-old charged for Nazi massacre

AFP · 17 Nov 2009, 14:25

Published: 17 Nov 2009 14:25 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

With Allied forces fast overrunning Germany, the man, named in the media as Adolf Storms, was accused of hatching a plot on March 28, 1945 with other SS and members of the Hitler Youth, to slaughter Jewish prisoners in their charge.

The next day, the accused and other SS took at least 57 labourers in several groups into woods near the small town of Deutsch Schützen in Hitler's native Austria near the present-day border with Hungary, prosecutors alleged.

There, the Jews, who were Hungarian, were stripped of their valuables before being made to kneel down in a ditch. Storms and his accomplices then dispatched them with bullets from behind, prosecutors said in a statement.

The same day or the day after, he gunned down a 58th labourer who was too exhausted to continue a forced march. Shooting him in the same "cowardly" manner in the back, prosecutors said. The 90-year-old, a former member of the fifth SS Tank Division "Viking," now lives in the west German industrial city of Duisburg near Cologne. Police raided his residence in December, seizing documents.

Der Spiegel magazine reported last October that investigators were put onto Storms thanks to research into the massacre by a 28-year-old Austrian student, Andreas Forster.

Forster travelled to Duisburg and filmed hours of interviews over several days, finding the elderly man to be "sprightly" but unable to recollect the day of the massacre.

"We informed prosecutors in July," Forster told the magazine, since which time Storms has refused all contact with him.

At the time of the massacre, the Nazis were desperately evacuating concentration camps, forcing emaciated prisoners on exhausting marches and killing those too weak to carry on.

Just a month later, with the Third Reich in ruins, Hitler shot himself in his bunker as the Red Army swept into Berlin, and the war in Europe, and the Holocaust, were over.

A court in Duisburg now has to decide whether the trial of the man can go ahead. The defendant has two weeks to present evidence or to appeal against the case proceeding.

Prosecutors allege that he was driven by National Socialist ideology according to which his victims were considered to be "of low value," a spokesman said in the statement.

News of the charges raised the prospect of another Nazi trial, more than six decades after the end of the fighting and the Nuremberg trials of Hitler's top henchmen.

On November 30, alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk, 89, was due to stand trial in the southern city of Munich, charged with assisting in the murder of 27,900 people in 1943.

Story continues below…

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, deported from the United States in May, is number three on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's list of most wanted war criminals, behind two others believed to be dead.

Prosecutors have charged Demjanjuk with being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943 where hundreds of thousands of Jews were herded to the gas chambers. His family insists he is innocent and that he is too ill to stand trial.

Last month, 88-year-old former SS soldier Heinrich Boere went on trial in the western city of Aachen for gunning down three Dutch resistance fighters in 1944. He has said he was following orders.

And in August, a court jailed a 90-year-old former German army commander for life for ordering a massacre of Italian civilians in 1944. His troops gunned down a 74-year-old woman and three men in the street before forcing 11 males aged between 15 and 66 into the ground floor of a farmhouse which they then blew up. Only the youngest one survived.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd