Former Auschwitz Guard Goes on Trial in Germany

DETMOLD, Germany (AP) -
FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2012 file photo the entrance with the inscription "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free) gate of the former German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz is pictured at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial in Oswiecim, Poland. A 94-year-old former SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp is going on trial Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 on 170,000 counts of accessory to murder, the first of up to four cases being brought to court this year in an 11th-hour push by German prosecutors to punish Nazi war crimes. Reinhold Hanning is accused of serving as an SS Unterscharfuehrer _ similar to a sergeant _ in Auschwitz from January 1943 to June 1944, a time when hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were brought to the camp in cattle cars and were gassed to death. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)
The entrance with the inscription “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Sets You Free) on the gate in Auschwitz, the former German Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

A 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard is going on trial on 170,000 counts of accessory to murder in western Germany. He is accused of serving in the death camp at a time when hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were gassed.

Former SS Sgt. Reinhold Hanning maintains that he served in a part of the Auschwitz camp complex where no gassings were taking place. Prosecutors argue that all guards helped the camp function, and that during the so-called “Hungarian action” in 1944 almost all were called upon to help deal with the vast numbers of people arriving at the killing complex in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Leon Schwarzbaum, a 94-year-old Auschwitz survivor from Berlin, is scheduled to testify Thursday, the opening day of the trial. It is unclear whether Hanning will first make a statement.