AP

Former Nazi SS guard, 93, going on trial in Hamburg

Oct 17, 2019, 5:31 AM

HAMBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 17: Bruno D., 93, arrives for the first day of his trial for his role as...

HAMBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 17: Bruno D., 93, arrives for the first day of his trial for his role as a guard at the World War II Nazi Stutthof concentration camp on October 17, 2019 in Hamburg, Germany. Prosecutors accuse Bruno D., who served as guard at the camp from 1944 to 1945 when he was 17 and 18 years old, of accessory to murder in 5,230 cases. Stuthoff, built in 1939 in Poland near Danzig, was the first Nazi concentration camp outside of Germany. An estimated 65,000 prisoners died at the camp, among them Jews, Polish leaders, Lithuanian resistance fighters, Soviet prisoners of war and others. (Photo by Chris Emil Janßen-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Emil Janßen-Pool/Getty Images)

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — From his post as a young SS private in a watchtower in Nazi Germany’s Stutthof concentration camp, Bruno Dey could hear the screams of Jews dying in the gas chamber. And, Dey later told investigators, the carting of their lifeless bodies to the camp’s crematorium was a daily sight.

More than seven decades later, Dey is going on trial Thursday on 5,230 counts of accessory to murder in Hamburg state court. Prosecutors argue that by standing guard at the camp from August 1944 to April 1945, the 93-year-old helped Stutthof function and was thus “a small wheel in the machinery of murder.”

“The accused was no ardent worshipper of Nazi ideology,” prosecutors say in the indictment, reviewed by The Associated Press. “But there is also no doubt that he never actively challenged the persecutions of the Nazi regime.”

Dey, a baker by training, told prosecutors he was deemed unfit for the front at age 17 in 1944 because of a heart problem, so instead was sent as a guard to Stutthof, and suggested that with or without him the killing would have taken place.

If he hadn’t been there, “they would have just found someone else,” he said.

Dey’s attorney, Stefan Waterkamp, said his client stood by his statements to police and prosecutors. But he noted that the indictment doesn’t link him to any specific killing, and that it will be up to the court to decide whether standing guard in a watchtower alone is enough to convict him.

“Many people were killed in many ways at Stutthof,” Waterkamp said. “Some were directly killed, some were killed by starvation, some were killed by typhus — the question is who is immediately responsible?”

In recent years, prosecutors have successfully convicted former death camp guards using the argument that by helping camps like Auschwitz and Sobibor function, they were accessories to the murders there even without evidence of involvement in a specific killing.

The 2015 conviction of former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening on such reasoning was upheld by a German federal court, solidifying the precedent.

In Dey’s case, the reasoning is being applied to a concentration camp rather than a death camp. Still, prosecutors have expressed confidence it still pertains, since tens of thousands of people were killed in Stutthof even though — unlike at the death camps — the site’s sole purpose wasn’t murder.

Stutthof was established by Nazi Germany in 1939 east of Danzig, which is today the Polish city of Gdansk, and was initially used as the main collection point for Jews and non-Jewish Poles removed from the city.

From about 1940, it was used as a so-called “work education camp” where forced laborers, primarily Polish and Soviet citizens, were sent to serve sentences and often died. Others incarcerated there included criminals, political prisoners, homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

From mid-1944, when Dey was posted there, it was filled with tens of thousands of Jews from ghettos being cleared by the Nazis in the Baltics as well as from Auschwitz, and thousands of Polish civilians swept up in the brutal suppression of the Warsaw uprising.

In the end, more than 60,000 people were killed there by being given lethal injections of gasoline or phenol directly to their hearts, shot or starved. Others were forced outside in winter without clothes until they died of exposure, or put to death in a gas chamber.

Asked if he knew who was being killed, Dey told prosecutors his SS comrades talked of the “extermination of the Jews” and said he had “done people wrong” by serving there.

“I did not know why they were there,” Dey told prosecutors. “I knew well that they were Jews who had committed no crime, that they were only there because they were Jews. And they have the same right to live and to work like any other person. But it was just that Hitler or his party were against that, who had something against the Jews.”

Because of his relative openness to talk, Dey was expected to be called to testify last year at the trial of another Stutthof guard, Johann Rehbogen. But those proceedings collapsed after the defendant was hospitalized for heart and kidney issues and he never took the stand.

Dey has been deemed fit to stand trial by experts, but sessions will be limited to two hours a day, and are scheduled to be held only twice a week. A medical team will be on hand to check on him during the trial, and breaks will be taken every 45 minutes.

Dey is accused of serving as a guard from August 1944 to April 1945, when he was 17 and 18. Because of his age at the time of the alleged crimes, he will be tried in juvenile court and faces a possible six months to 10 years in prison if convicted. In Germany there are no consecutive sentences.

Waterkamp said it is difficult for his client to talk about his Stutthof past, but that he is expected to answer questions from the court and might make a statement as well.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP

A photo taken of Matthew Perry in 2022....

Clayre Scott

Criminal investigation opened in relation to Matthew Perry’s death

A criminal investigation has been opened in relation to Matthew Perry's death due to high levels of ketamine found in his blood.

2 days ago

FILE - The United Nations (UN) headquarters are pictured in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Sept. 9, 2...

EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press

U.N. to vote on resolution that would grant Palestine new rights

The U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote Friday on a resolution that would grant new "rights and privileges" to Palestine.

14 days ago

President Joe Biden arrives at Chicago O'Hare International Airport to attend a political fundraise...

ZEKE MILLER and AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press

Biden says US won’t supply weapons for Israel to attack Rafah

Biden said the U.S. was still committed to Israel's defense, but that if Israel goes into Rafah, "we're not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used."

15 days ago

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who just testified in the Trump hush money trial....

Associated Press

Adult film star testifies in Trump hush money case

Donald Trump's attorneys have unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial during the testimony of porn actor Stormy Daniels. She was testifying at Trump's hush money criminal trial that she had a sexual encounter with Trump after meeting him at a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf outing where her studio was a sponsor.

16 days ago

This photo provided by NASA shows an Eta Aquarid meteor streaking over northern Georgia on April 29...

CHRISTINA LARSON, AP Science Writer

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, debris of Halley’s comet, peaks this weekend. Here’s how to see it

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, remnants of Halley's comet, peaks this weekend.

19 days ago

Actor Mark Hamill takes off sunglasses given to him by President Joe Biden, as he joins White House...

COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press

‘Star Wars’ actor Mark Hamill drops by White House for a visit with ‘Joe-bi-Wan Kenobi’

"Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill has dropped by the White House for a visit with President Joe Biden.

20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Former Nazi SS guard, 93, going on trial in Hamburg