A 93- year-old previous SS private, who as a teenager stood guard in a watchtower in a Nazi Germany prisoner-of-war camp, began trial Thursday in Hamburg state court where he’s implicated of being an accessory to 5,230 murders in the finals months of The Second World War.
Bruno Dey was in his late teens when he operated at the Stutthof concentration camp more than seven decades ago beyond Danzig, which is now the city of Gdansk in Poland.
District attorneys argue that while Dey was not directly involved in a killing in Stutthof, he was a “little wheel in the equipment of murder” committed during his time as a guard from August 1944 to April 1945 given he actively stopped prisoners from escaping the camp, which was among the last to be liberated.
Dey also allegedly informed investigators he could hear the screams of Jews dying in the gas chambers below his watchtower and witnessed the everyday carting off of their dead bodies to the camp’s crematorium. His attorney, Stefan Waterkamp, questioned why his client was being prosecuted now, saying that before a current modification in German legal thinking, “no one had an interest in the simple guards.”
” Where does responsibility end?” he asked the court in his opening statement. “That is the question this trial must answer.”
93- year-old former SS guard Bruno Dey in the concentration camp Stutthof near Danzig going into the local court in Hamburg, Germany, Oct.17,2019 The prosecution implicates him of assisting and abetting the murder of 5230 individuals. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa by means of AP).
Recently, district attorneys have actually successfully founded guilty previous death camp guards utilizing the argument that by assisting to run camps like Auschwitz and Sobibor, they were accessories to the murders there. The 2015 conviction of previous Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening on such thinking was promoted by a German federal court, strengthening the precedent.
District attorney Lars Mahnke detailed how 10s of countless people, mostly Jews, were gassed, shot and starved to death as part of the “organized killing” carried out throughout Stutthof’s six years of operation. Stutthof was developed by Nazi Germany in 1939 east of Danzig and was utilized as the main collection point for Jews and non-Jewish Poles eliminated from the city. In Dey’s case, the thinking is being applied to a prisoner-of-war camp rather than a death camp given the site’s sole function wasn’t murder.
” The accused was no ardent worshipper of Nazi ideology,” prosecutors argue in the indictment. “However there is also no doubt that he never actively challenged the persecutions of the Nazi routine.”
Even in concentration camps, “it was practically a specific death sentence,” stated Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem who attended the opening of the trial. Zuroff, who assisted find nearly two lots Stutthof survivors for the case, rejected Waterkamp’s idea that Dey need to not be prosecuted because higher-ranking Nazis were never brought to trial.
” Even if more senior crooks got away with a criminal offense does not imply that the more minor wrongdoers are innocent,” Zuroff said.
Due To The Fact That Dey was 17 when he began serving at the camp, he is being tried in juvenile court and faces a possible six months to 10 years in prison if founded guilty. Dey himself informed prosecutors his SS pals talked of the “extermination of the Jews” and said he had “done individuals wrong” by serving there.
” I did not know why they existed,” Dey told district attorneys. “I understood well that they were Jews who had actually dedicated no criminal offense, that they were just there due to the fact that they were Jews. And they have the very same right to live and to work like any other person. However it was simply that Hitler or his celebration … had something against the Jews.”
The Associated press added to this report.