An 88-year old former Nazi death camp guard accused of participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews has been charged with war crimes.
Samuel Kunz, a retired civil servant, who is No 3 on a list of most-wanted former Nazis, was under 21 at the time that the extermination programme for Polish Jews he is alleged to have participated in, Operation Reinhard, began in January 1942.
He has been indicted on three criminal charges. Participation in the murder of 430,000 people in the death camp Belzec in occupied Poland, the single-handed murder of eight people and the murder of two people.
Kunz, who lives close to the western German city of Bonn was informed about the charges last week.
Kunz, whose family is ethnic German, was born in August 1921 on the River Volga in Russia, and joined the red army. During the second world war he was captured by the Germans and given the choice of being interned at a POW camp or working with the Nazis.
He allegedly chose the latter and attended the SS training camp at Trawniki in Poland. He subsequently served as a camp guard at Belzec which was a centre of the extermination programme between January 1942 to July 1943 in which a total of 434,508 Jews were murdered, most of them gassed, according to SS own records.
Belzec was seen as a murder factory where prisoners were brought to be killed immediately. It was run by around a dozen SS men but with as many as 120 so-called ‘helpers’ from Trawniki.
Unsurprisingly, the fact that Kunz is 88 years old has often been cited as a reason he should not stand trial. But does that mean he should escape justice?