Former Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Convicted In Germany
A 93-year-old former SS private has been convicted of being an accessory to murder, over 70 after having served as a guard at the Stutthof concentration camp in Nazi occupied Poland.
Appearing before the Hamburg state court in Germany, Bruno Dey was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder, a number believed to equal the number of victims who died at the camp during his service there between August 1944 and April 1945.
Dey has also been convicted of one count of accessory to attempted murder. As he had only been 17 and then 18 at the time of his crimes, Dey’s case was brought before a juvenile court.
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Prosecutors had called for Dey to serve out a three-year sentence, whilst the defense sought acquittal. He has now been given a two year suspended sentence.
As reported by the Associated Press, Dey’s trial opened back in October 2019.
On account of his advanced age, court sessions were limited to two-hour sessions twice a week, with additional safety precautions being taken once the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Announcing the verdict on Thursday, July 23, presiding judge Anne Meier-Goering asked the following question of Dey:
How could you get used to the horror?
Dey apologised for his part in the horrors of Nazi Germany during a closing statement made earlier this week, stating ‘it must never be repeated’.
Speaking before the court, Dey stated:
Today, I want to apologize to all of the people who went through this hellish insanity.
Over 60,000 people were killed at Stutthof through lethal injections, shooting or starvation. Others died of exposure after being forced outside without clothing in cold conditions, or died in the gas chambers.
Dey recalled hearing screams from the gas chambers, stating that, ‘the images of misery and horror have haunted me my entire life’.
During his testimony, Dey stated that he hadn’t contributed to the mass murder, other than standing guard, claiming that, he was ‘forced to do it, it was an order’.
In a statement made to CNN, Ben Cohen, whose grandmother Judy Meisel is a former camp prisoner and a co-plaintiff at the trial, described the verdict as being ‘symbolic justice’ for the victims.
Cohen told CNN:
On behalf of my grandmother and our family this verdict sends a powerful message that a guard in any camp cannot deny responsibility for what happened.
[…] Unfortunately, most perpetrators of the Holocaust were never prosecuted and so we are left with something that feels like symbolic justice today, rather than true justice.
The most important thing to us is that these horrific things should never happen again and that the world can be educated about the capacity for seemingly normal people to be part of the most horrific evil.
German prosecutors are currently conducting investigations into 14 other historic cases connected to the Nazi concentration camps of Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Mauthausen and Stutthof, as per the Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes.
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