The Hamburg court on Thursday sentenced a 93-year-old former Nazi camp guard to two years in prison for complicity in thousands of murders in Stutthof, Poland between 1944 and 1945.
Accused Bruno Dey
is found guilty of aiding and abetting in 5,232 murders and attempted murders , court president Anne Meier-Göring said after a trial, probably one of the last to deal with the atrocities committed under the Third Reich.
It was wrong. It was a terrible injustice. You should not have participated in Stutthof. You see yourself as an observer. But you were a supporter of this hell created by men.Anne Meier-Göring, president of the tribunal
The nonagenarian, aged 17 to 18 at the time of the facts, is tried on the basis of the legislation for minors.
The prosecution had called for three years in prison, and the defense, a dismissal.
Bruno Dey, who appeared throughout the hearings in a wheelchair and accompanied by his relatives, served between August 1944 and April 1945 in the Stutthof concentration camp in northern Poland.
In total, some 65,000 people, mostly Jews from the Baltic States and Poland, died there, shot in the back of the neck, gassed with Zyklon B, and hanged. Or they have succumbed to the cold, epidemics and forced labor.
The accused, posted on one of the watchtowers overlooking it, had the duty to prevent any revolt or flight.
Does that make him a culprit? He said no. He never
directly hurt anyone . He never
volunteered to join the SS or serve in a death camp , but he had no choice but to accept his posting, he says.
You should not have followed a criminal order, and under no circumstances invoked it in your defense, said the judge.
Belatedly noting “the extent of cruelty”
His lawyer had pleaded for leniency, finding it difficult to wait for a 17-year-old to stand out by asking for his transfer, which would no doubt have meant for him to be sent to the eastern front.
Serving in a concentration camp was not considered a crime at the time , Stefan Waterkamp had also argued. An argument clearly rejected by the judge.
In reality, the message of this trial is this: we must ensure human dignity at all costs. Yes, and also if the price to pay is its own security.Anne Meier-Göring, president of the tribunal
Briefly a prisoner of war after 1945, Bruno Dey was not subsequently worried. He made his life in Hamburg, was a baker, truck driver and janitor, started a family.
On Monday, he apologized
to those who went through this hell of madness , saying he really became aware, over the nine months of trial and the forty testimonies, of the
full extent of the cruelty of the acts committed at Stutthof.
Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, this trial could well be the last of its kind due to the old age of the protagonists.
Last week, the Wuppertal court announced the indictment of another 95-year-old former Stutthof guard, again for complicity in killings. A trial is far from certain.
About thirty procedures are still underway, according to German media.
In recent years, Germany has tried and condemned several former SS and extended to camp guards the charge of complicity in murder, illustrating the increased severity, although deemed very late by the victims, of its justice.
The most emblematic case was the five-year prison sentence of former Sobibor extermination camp guard John Demjanjuk in 2011. He died the following year .