Seven decades after the world war two ended, a former concentration camp guard has gone on trial for assisting in the murder of 3,518 prisoners at Sachsenhausen near Berlin.
Josef S is accused of complicity in the shooting of Soviet prisoners of war and the murder of others with Zyklon B gas.
Time is running out for Nazi-era criminals to face justice and he is the oldest defendant so far to stand trial.
It was only in recent years that lower-ranking Nazis were brought to trial.
Ten years ago, the conviction of former SS guard John Demjanjuk set a precedent enabling prosecutors to charge people for aiding and abetting Nazi crimes in World War Two. Until then, direct participation in murder had to be proven.
Identified as Josef S, because of German privacy laws, the defendant was led into a specially adapted sports hall at a prison in Brandenburg an der Havel, where the trial began amid strict security.
He arrived outside the court in a wheelchair, clutching a briefcase, and entered with the aid of a walking frame.
Josef S has lived in the Brandenburg area for years, reportedly as a locksmith, and has not spoken publicly about the trial.
His lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, told the court that the defendant would make no comment at the trial on the allegations against him. He would, however, speak about his personal circumstances at Friday’s hearing.
Josef S was 21 when he first became a guard at Sachsenhausen in 1942. Now almost 101, he is considered able to appear in court for up to two and half hours a day. The trial is due to continue until January.
Tens of thousands of people died at the camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, including resistance fighters, Jews, political opponents, homosexuals and prisoners of war.
A gas chamber was installed at Sachsenhausen in 1943 and 3,000 people were massacred at the camp as the war drew to a close because they were “unfit to march”.
There were 3,000 guards at Stutthof concentration camp alone, and only 50 were convicted.
Most Nazi camp guards will not face trial.