Former concentration camp guards are facing justice more than 70 years after the Holocaust.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff
German prosecutors said Wednesday they have indicted two former Nazi SS guards on charges of being accessories to murder while they worked at a Holocaust concentration camp.
Both men served as guards at the Stutthof concentration camp, located near what is now the Polish city of Gdansk, Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel told The Associated Press.
The indictments were filed against a 93-year-old man from Borken who served in Stutthof from June 1942 to September 1944 and a 92-year-old man from Wuppertal who was there from June 1944 to May 1945.
The charges were filed last week at the state court in Muenster but only announced Wednesday because the defendants first had to be notified. Both deny they had any knowledge of killings at the camp, Brendel said.
Stutthof was a Nazi concentration camp built in a secluded, wet, and wooded area near the small town of Sztutowo in the northern Poland. Stutthof was the first camp outside German borders, in operation from the German invasion in September 1939, and the last camp liberated by the Allies in May 1945.
More than 85,000 victims died in the camp, out of some 110,000 inmates deported there. Some were put to death in gas chambers or shot, while others died from malnutrition or froze to death.
The men, who have not been named, both served as guards and also watched over prisoners who were taken outside the camp to work. During the time they were at Stutthof, hundreds of killings occurred.
Members of the SS killed more than 100 Polish prisoners and some 77 Soviet prisoners of war in the camp’s gas chamber in 1944. An unknown number of Jews also were gassed there in late 1944.
Between June 1944 and April 1945, SS members also killed several hundred Jews by shooting them in the back of the neck. SS-physicians and nurses at Stutthof killed more than 140 prisoners, many of them Jewish women and children, by injecting their hearts with gasoline and the chemical compound phenol from late 1942 until late 1944.
“The prosecutors assume that the accused were aware of the different killing methods …and that such a multitude of people could have only been killed with such regularity because the victims were guarded by helpers like them,” the court wrote in a statement issued Wednesday.
The two men therefore willingly supported several hundreds of killings of camp inmates in their function as guards, the statement added.
German prosecutors in recent years have renewed their efforts to pursue Nazi criminals using new legal reasoning that, even without evidence of a specific crime, suspected Nazis can be charged as accomplices to the crimes committed at the camps.
In June 2016, former Auschwitz SS guard Reinhold Hanning became the latest Nazi war criminal to be convicted by a court.