Former Nazi SS guard, 93, going on trial in juvenile court

In this July 18, 2017 file photo, the wooden main gate leading into the former Nazi German Stutthof concentration camp is photographed, in Sztutowo, Poland. (AP/ Czarek Sokolowski)

Because he was 17 and 18 at the time of the alleged crimes, Dey will be tried in juvenile court.

By Associated Press

A 93-year-old former SS private is going on trial in Germany on Thursday on 5,230 counts of being an accessory to murder, accused of helping the Nazis’ Stutthof concentration camp function.

Though he is not accused of any specific killing, Bruno Dey is charged as an accessory to those committed at Stutthof from August 1944 to April 1945 when he served as a guard there, because he helped prevent prisoners from escaping, according to the charges filed by Hamburg prosecutors.

Dey himself argues he wasn’t a follower of Nazi ideology and that he was only sent there as a guard because a health issue prevented him from serving at the front. He says the killings would have taken place with or without him.

“Surveillance was necessary for the concentration camp to function, and the camp was made to kill people,” Hamburg state court spokesman Kai Wantzen said in August of the prosecution’s argument.

When Dey was charged in April, prosecutors called him “a small wheel in the machinery of murder.”

More than 60,000 people were killed at the Nazi German camp built east of Danzig, which today is the Polish city of Gdansk, including Jews, political prisoners, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Polish civilians and resistance fighters after the brutal suppression of the 1944 Warsaw uprising.

Prisoners were killed 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.

Because he was 17 and 18 at the time of the alleged crimes, Dey 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.

David Jablinowitz: