Trial of 95-year-old former Auschwitz medic begins in Germany

Former SS medic Hubert Zafke, 95, accused of aiding in 3,681 murders in Auschwitz in 1944, attends his trial on September 12, 2016 at the court in Neubrandenburg. © DPA
The trial of a 95-year-old man, charged with 3,681 counts of accessory to murder as a former SS medic in Auschwitz, has opened in Germany after questions surrounding his health caused three previous postponements.

The court heard that Hubert Zafke, a retired farmer reportedly suffered from stress, high blood pressure and suicidal thoughts, but Judge Klas Kabisch decided to proceed with the case on Monday after a doctor determined that Zafke was fit to attend court.

Zafke was scheduled to stand trial in Neubrandenburg state court in February.

Legal representatives for Auschwitz victims and their families, suing as co-plaintiffs, have also filed motions against Judge Kabisch, who they believe was biased during his three previous rulings on Zafke’s health.

Zafke is accused of helping to run the horrific Auschwitz concentration camp during a one-month period in 1944 by putting prisoners into gas chambers, screening blood samples from women prisoners, and treating SS guard personnel.

Zafke reportedly made no comments when the charges against him were read out in court.  His attorney argues that Zafke was simply a medic in the Nazi-run camp and wasn’t part of any criminal activity.

Some 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished between 1940 and 1945 in Auschwitz before it was liberated by Soviet forces.

On Friday, A German state court dropped a similar case against a 92-year-old woman who worked as an Auschwitz radio operator.

READ MORE: 94yo Nazi SS Auschwitz guard sentenced to 5ys in prison

The woman, identified in court only as Helma M, suffers from an unnamed illness and is almost completely blind and deaf, and therefore unfit to stand trial, according to a court statement.

Helma was being charged with 260,000 counts of accessory to murder because of her involvement with the concentration camp.

In June, 94-year-old Reinhold Hanning was sentenced in five years in prison for his involvement in the killing of at least 170,000 Auschwitz prisoners.