German court convicts 93-year-old man for Nazi crimes

24 Juillet, 2020, 01:51 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Bruno Dey a former SS-watchman at the Stutthof concentration camp hides his face behind a folder at the start of a hearing in his trial

He was found guilty of being involved in killings between August 1944 and April 1945.

Forty co-plaintiffs were part of the trial, with 35 survivors of Stutthof among them.

He said he was "shaken" by witness accounts from Stutthof, where tens of thousands of people died from illness, malnutrition and murder by gas chamber and surprise execution. Four of the former prisoners appeared at the Hamburg court to recount daily abuses, hunger and executions in that camp, according to the German public broadcaster Tagesschau. Dey confessed at the start of the trial a year ago for working at Stutthof, but claimed he did not work there willingly. Because of Dey's age, court sessions were limited to two, two-hour sessions a week.

In his closing statement this week, Dey apologized to the victims and their relatives. "What is so upsetting for survivors is that this defendant failed to use the many postwar years of his life to reflect on what he saw and heard".

In the lead-up to the trial, however, investigators said Dey had described horrific scenes of violence and suffering at the camp. It also alleged that he "contributed to the execution of the kill order". His trial took place in juvenile court because of his age at the time the crime was committed.

For years now, every trial of a former Nazi has been described as likely Germany's last.

Prosecutors prevailed in securing a conviction for Dey by relying on a precedent set in previous Nazi crime cases that forgo providing evidence in each specific murder- a near-impossible task due to the circumstances of deaths related to concentration camps and time elapsed.

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Dey told the court that as a trained baker's apprentice, he attempted to get sent to an army kitchen or bakery when he learned he'd been assigned to Stutthof.

A 93-year-old man, identified as Bruno D, was discovered as a former Nazi concentration camp guard in April 2019.

Since then, there has been a surge in investigations and charges against former Nazi guards and officers. A special prosecutors' office that investigates Nazi-era crimes has more than a dozen ongoing investigations. The rush by authorities to reexamine old files comes amid rising concern over anti-Semitism in Europe and as the last of the World War II generation passes away.

The judge said that, while Dey should have tried to avoid service at Stutthof, the sentence was appropriate to his guilt.

Bruno Dey was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence by a court in the German city of Hamburg.

'I would like to stress again that I would never have voluntarily signed up to the SS or any other unit - especially not in a concentration camp, ' he said in his final statements before the court delivered the verdict.

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