Former SS private charged with 5,230 counts of accessory to murder will be among the last few surviving Nazis to be prosecuted for war crimes; will be tried as a minor
A Hamburg court ruled Thursday that a 92-year-old former SS private will go on trial on 5,230 counts of accessory to murder on allegations that, in his role as a guard, he helped the Stutthof concentration camp function.
Spokesman Kai Wantzen told The Associated Press that the suspect, identified by German media as Bruno Dey, will go on trial October 17, after experts determined his health was good enough, so long as sessions are limited to two hours a day.
More than 60,000 people were killed at the Nazi German camp built east of Danzig, which is today the Polish city of Gdansk.
Dey is accused of serving as a guard there from August 1944 to April 1945, which prosecutors say makes him an accessory to murders during that time.
Despite his senior age, Dey will be tried by a juvenile court in Hamburg, because he was 17 when he first worked at Stutthof.
Prosecutors accuse Dey of having contributed to the implementation of the Nazis’ order to kill as a “cog of the murder machinery.”
According to the German daily Die Welt, Dey did not deny his presence in the camp when Hamburg prosecutors questioned him last year.
Dey, a trained baker, reportedly insisted he was never a Nazi and only ended up in the SS-Totenkopfsturmbahn (Death’s Head Battalion), which ran the camp, because of a heart disease.
According to the report, Dey confirmed he had guard duties at the watchtowers and knew of the camp’s gas chambers, where he saw SS prisoners being pushed inside.
He admitted seeing “emaciated figures, people who had suffered,” but insists he is not guilty, replying “what use would it have done? They would have just found someone else” when asked why he did not put in a transfer to fight at the front, Die Welt reported.
The case is likely to be one of the last trials involving Nazi war crimes.
Earlier this year, a German judge suspended the trial of a former concentration camp guard, who also worked at Stutthof, after the 95-year-old defendant was hospitalized with heart and kidney problems.
Germany has been racing to put on trial surviving SS personnel, after the legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis changed in 2011 with the landmark conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk.
He was sentenced on the grounds that he served as a cog in the Nazi killing machine at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland, rather than for murders or atrocities linked to him personally.
The Nazis had initially used Stutthof as a detention camp for Polish prisoners but later also transported Jewish detainees to the site.