Germany: Former Nazi guard going on trial for role at Polish death camp
A 92-year-old former Nazi SS guard will go on trial for aiding and abetting 5,230 cases of murder during the almost nine months he spent on duty at the Stutthof death camp near the Polish city of Gdansk, a Hamburg court said Thursday, in what will be one of the last ever cases against Nazi-era war crimes.
Though he is not accused of any specific murder, the former Nazi identified as Bruno Dey is charged as an accessory to those committed at Stutthof from August 1944 to April 1945 when he served as a guard there, because he helped prevent prisoners from escaping, according to the charges filed by Hamburg prosecutors.
“Surveillance was necessary for the concentration camp to function, and the camp was made to kill people,” Hamburg state court spokesman Kai Wantzen said of the prosecution’s argument.
When he was charged in April, prosecutors called him “a small wheel in the machinery of murder.”
Wantzen said the former Nazi did not deny to authorities that he had served in Stutthof. He acknowledged to investigators he was aware of the camp’s gas chambers and saw bodies taken to the crematoriums.
More than 60,000 people were murdered at the Polish death camp built by the Nazis east of Danzig, which today is the Polish city of Gdansk, including Jews, political prisoners, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Polish civilians and resistance fighters after the brutal suppression of the 1944 Warsaw uprising.
Prisoners were killed by being given lethal injections of gasoline or phenol directly to their hearts, shot or starved. Others were forced outside in winter without clothes until they died of exposure, or put to death in a gas chamber.
With only a handful of people involved in Nazi Germany’s genocidal crimes still alive, all in extreme old age, prosecutors are racing against time to ensure at least some justice is done by the victims, including the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
The case against another nonagenarian former guard at Stutthof was halted last year because the suspect was too infirm to stand trial.
Another, Oskar Groening, known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz” for his job counting cash stolen from people sent to the most notorious of all the regime’s death camps, died last year aged 96 as he waited to begin his sentence.