Europe

Former concentration camp guard 'wants to forget'

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – A 93-year-old former SS guard told a court in Germany on Wednesday (May 20) that he “wants to forget” his time at Stutthof concentration camp, but denied that he bore guilt for his actions.

“I want to forget, I don’t want to keep going over the past,” former guard Bruno Dey told the Hamburg tribunal, in remarks carried by national news agency DPA.

Judge Anna Meier-Goering had asked whether Dey had talked to his children and grandchildren about the time he stood guard at the Stutthof camp.

He faces charges of complicity in the murder of more than 5,000 people during World War II at the camp located near the city of Danzig – now Gdansk in Poland.

“I don’t bear any guilt for what happened back then,” Dey said.

“I didn’t contribute anything to it, other than standing guard. But I was forced to do it, it was an order.”

Dey’s defence has insisted that he did not join the SS voluntarily before serving at the camp from August 1944 to April 1945, ending up assigned there because a heart condition excluded him from front-line service.

He is standing trial at a juvenile court because he was aged between 17 and 18 at the time.

But prosecutors argue that his involvement was crucial to the killings, as his time in the SS coincided with the “Final Solution” order to exterminate Jews systematically, through gassing, starvation or denial of medical care.

He last year acknowledged knowing of the camp’s gas chambers and admitted seeing “emaciated figures, people who had suffered”, but insisted he was not guilty.

Turning his hand to baking, truck driving and later building maintenance after the war, Dey came into prosecutors’ sights after a landmark 2011 ruling against former Sobibor camp guard John Demjanjuk on the basis that he was part of the Nazi killing machine.

Since then, Germany has been racing to put on trial surviving SS personnel on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

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