BERLIN- A 93-year-old former guard at Auschwitz goes on trial in Germany on Thursday accused of being an accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people - the first of four such court cases that could be the last due to the very old age of the defendants.
The three men and one woman accused are all in their nineties and will be tried over the next few months, starting with Reinhold Hanning in the western German city of Detmold.
Hanning was 20 years old in 1942 when he started serving as a guard at the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland where more than 1.1 million Jews were killed by the Nazis.
Prosecutors said he voluntarily joined the armed SS at the age of 18 and participated in battles in eastern Europe during the early stages of World War Two before being transferred to Auschwitz in January 1942.
Accused by the prosecutor's office in Dortmund as well as by 38 joint plaintiffs from Hungary, Israel, Canada, Great Britain, the United States and Germany, Hanning will face the accounts of contemporary camp witnesses.