The time for justice has come. But it took a long time. Very, very long.
Siegmund Freund is 101 years old. He, the German Jew from Remscheid, survived hell in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. For the atrocities there, a former security guard will have to answer in court from Thursday in Brandenburg an der Havel.
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Josef S., meanwhile 100 years old, former member of the SS-Totenkopf-Guard Battalion Sachsenhausen, has been charged with aiding and abetting murder in 3518 cases.
“You’re late. Why didn’t you come earlier? ”Asks Freund when BILD am SONNTAG visits him in a nursing home in Frankfurt / Main. He wears a blue kippah. He still has his tattooed prisoner number on his left forearm.
Freund was 19 when the Gestapo arrested him in 1939. A young man, a trained watchmaker, who plays football for a club – “I was a real runner” – and also competes in the athletics relay.
His sportiness may have saved his life. Because he was “strong and healthy, therefore useful” for the SS men, he was used in the prisoners’ kitchen.
When concentration camp guard S. started in Sachsenhausen in October 1941, Freund had been there for almost two years. As early as the early 1960s, he testified about horrific sadistic rituals.
Guards drove prisoners to roll call square in winter and sprayed them with fire hoses. Anyone who fell was “sprayed in the face” at close range and thus killed by the immense water pressure.
Other inmates were driven across the square in the ice and snow until they dropped dead. Or were so weakened that they died shortly afterwards.
Freund also overheard prisoners being led to believe that they would be brought for medical treatment. In fact, they were executed with specially built gunshot systems in the neck.
“I was in Sachsenhausen for three years. Then in Auschwitz-Buna and in May 1945 I was liberated in Schwerin, “says friend BILD am Sonntag. What happened to his parents was never clarified. May 8, 1945 was set as the date of death.
Emigration to New York
In February 1950, Freund emigrated to New York with 195 refugees on board a ship, where he worked as a watchmaker. But he missed home – despite everything.
He returns in the early 1960s and starts a pearl trading business. However, he never starts a family, Freund always lives alone. Until recently, in a two-room apartment in Frankfurt / Main, now in an old people’s home. At 99 he was still driving a car.
After his return from captivity in 1947, the defendant Josef S. led an inconspicuous life as a locksmith in the “LPG Einigkeit Rogäsen Zitz” (Brandenburg).
Why he remained unmolested by the GDR judiciary is unclear. According to the Stasi documents from 1979, it is clear that by then at the latest one knew of S’s past. It is even possible that the Stasi made use of SS knowledge.
The defendant is considered to be able to stand trial
BILD am Sonntag meets the defendant at the door of a single-family house near Brandenburg (Havel), where S. lives alone today. There is a food box at the garden gate, apparently it is being delivered. Using a rollator, he makes it clear: “I don’t talk to the press.” S. is considered negotiable. But you don’t want to expect him to spend more than two hours a day.
Justice comes late for Siegmund Freund. But at least it is coming. He shows the BILD am Sonntag reporter old photos from Remscheid, from his youth. With a wistful look he points to a teammate and says: “That is the Ackermann.” And after a short pause: “They shot him later.”