Polish death camp guard convicted over 5,232 murders in one of the last Nazi trials in history
A 93-year-old former Nazi SS guard was convicted 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, in one of the last ever cases against Nazi-era war crimes.
“The concentration camp Stutthof and the mass murder that took place inside was only able to take place with your help,” said the judge Anne Meier-Göring in her verdict.
Although Dey acknowledged knowing of the Stutthof gas chambers and admitted seeing “emaciated figures, people who had suffered”, his defense team argued that he was a relatively unimportant figure in the camp and was not directly involved in the 5,230 deaths.
But prosecutors argued he had known what was happening, had had contact with the prisoners and had actively prevented their escape.
“When you are a part of mass-murder machinery, it is not enough to look away,” prosecutor Lars Mahnke said in his closing arguments.
The former Nazi identified as Bruno Dey served as a guard at Stutthof death camp from August 1944 to April 1945.
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 in 2018 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.