Over 70 years later, German prosecutors continue to seek justice for the heinous crimes committed during the Holocaust in a race against time. Today (Friday), a 96-year-old former SS guard, who was posted at the Majdanek extermination camp, was charged as an accessory to mass murder.

Majdanek Extermination Camp

Majdanek Extermination Camp Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

A 96-year-old German man from Frankfurt has been accused and charged with being an accessory to murder for his role as an SS guard at the Majdanek extermination camp from 1943 to 1944. German prosecutors will try the former guard as part of their race against time as they attempt to bring any last remaining Nazis to justice before they die.

“According to the known evidence, the suspect, as well as all other SS members of the camp, knew of the cruel and organized mass murder,” German prosecutors asserted in a statement. “He should have known that the people were killed out of racist and despicable motives.”

The defendant was allegedly involved in Operation “Erntefest” or Operation Harvest Festival, which took place on November 3, 1943.  At least 17,000 Jewish prisoners were shot and killed while standing in graves they had been forced to dig for themselves. The prosecutors stated, “He knowingly and willingly contributed to these insidious and cruel acts.”

The indictment is based on historical documents found during an investigation conducted by the Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes. Germany has been criticized over the years for not prosecuting all those who may not have taken an active part in mass murder but played a role in the Nazi extermination machine.

The harsh criticism softened after the commander of the Sobibór extermination camp was convicted in 2011. More recently, Reinhold Hanning, an SS guard at Auschwitz, and Oskar Groening, who was known as Auschwitz’s accountant, were also convicted.