A former Auschwitz guard has died just days before he was set to face trial for his role in the killings of more than 1,000 people, a court spokesman said Thursday.
The 93-year-old Ernst Tremmel belonged to the Nazi SS Totenkopf unit at the death camp in German-occupied Poland from November 1942 to June 1943, where he processed the arrival of prisoners to the prison. He was allegedly directly involved in three transport trips to the prison from locations throughout Europe.
A court spokesman said the trial was expected to start next Wednesday in the western town of Hanau, near Frankfurt. The court was to hear testimony from Auschwitz survivors, but "all the appointments related to these proceedings have now been canceled," the court said in a statement.
The cause of Tremmel's death was not released by authorities.
According to a previous court statement, at least 1,075 people were killed upon their arrival at Auschwitz, which would have implicated Tremmel since he was involved with processing the new prisoners. Despite being 19 to 20 years old during the time of his alleged crimes, the court chose to try him under juvenile criminal law.
Tremmel was one of 14 former Nazis arrested by German authorities in February 2014 in a last-ditch effort to bring to justice the few remaining living Nazi perpetrators.