A 91-year-old German woman was just charged with 260,000 counts of accessory to murder–because of her actions during World War II.
The woman, who has not been named by German authorities, was arrested and charged due to her role at the Auschwitz concentration camp. There, she served as a telegraph operator–essentially a secretary–from April to July 1944.
But during her tenure at Auschwitz, massive numbers of Hungarian Jews were murdered in the infamous gas chambers.
The woman in question belonged to an all-female unit working at Auschwitz, which helped the SS quickly exterminate Jews. It’s not entirely clear exactly how, as a telegraph operator, this woman played an accessory role in the deaths.
This woman is widely expected to be the last Nazi charged with crimes in Germany–because the war ended nearly seventy years ago, most of the perpetrators have long since died of natural causes or already been indicted or convicted of crimes.
Earlier this year, a 94-year-old German man, Oskar Groening–known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”–was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. Due to his advanced age, he was expected to be the final Nazi war trial–until this yet-to-be-named woman was arrested.
Even though so much time has passed, Nazi war crimes remain a visceral topic in Germany–with the German government and people often advocating going great lengths in order to atone for their crimes in the 1940s.
Despite being 91-years-old, the woman will be tried as a minor–she was under 21 when her crimes were allegedly committed. She’s apparently fit to stand trial, which means that even with a short sentence, she could face the rest of her life behind bars.