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MAINZ, Germany — A 93-year-old woman is being investigated by prosecutors on suspicion of serving as a Nazi SS guard at the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
“We can confirm that we are looking into allegations that Hilde Michnia from Hamburg was involved in a so-called death march from the former Gross-Rosen concentration camp to Gubin labor camp,” Carsten Rinio from the Hamburg prosecutor’s office told NBC News.
The probe follows a criminal complaint made by a private citizen. Kurt Schrimm, head of the German agency responsible for investigating Nazi war crimes, told NBC News that such a course of action was unusual.
More than 40,000 people died at the Gross-Rosen death camp and as many as 1,400 prisoners are believed to have died on the march during its evacuation in 1945.
A German court's landmark ruling in 2011 has made it simpler to prosecute cases by opening the door to charges of "accessory to murder." Former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in any specific killing. Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the killing of 28,060 Jews at the Nazi death camp in Sobibor.
Germany's Die Welt newspaper published a photo of the 93-year-old Michnia and quoted her as saying, "Oh, I did not do anything, I was just in the kitchen."
Asked about the dead bodies in the camp, the smell of death and the thousands of haggard victims, Die Welt said she replied: “I did not see that. They were in a totally different part of the camp.”
Last week, a German court confirmed that a 93-year-old man will go on trial in April on allegations he was accessory to 300,000 murders while serving as an SS guard at the former Auschwitz death camp. The trial for Oskar Groening, also known as the "accountant of Auschwitz," is due to open on April 21 in Lueneburg.
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