Bruno Dey, who had been an SS guard in the Stutthof concentration camp in German-occupied Poland during the last months of the conflict, was sentenced Thursday to a two-year suspended sentence.
He was part of a force occupying the camp’s watchtowers and was 17 and 18 at the time of the alleged infractions. His case was therefore heard in a youth court in Hamburg.
After a nine-month trial, he was found guilty of 5,232 counts of aiding and abetting murder – the number of prisoners allegedly killed at Stutthof while serving there – and one count of aiding and abetting attempted murder. of murder.
He admitted to having worked at the camp between August 1944 and April 1945, but claimed that this did not constitute guilt.
However, prosecutors argued that he was an accomplice to the murder by preventing detainees from escaping from the camp, which was one of the last to be released in 1945.
They had called for a three-year sentence, while the defense wanted an acquittal.
“How can you get used to the horror?” Presiding Judge Anne Meier-Goering requested when announcing the verdict.
In a final court statement earlier this week, Dey, who uses a wheelchair, apologized for the suffering suffered by the victims, but declined to take responsibility.
“Today I want to apologize to all the people who went through this hellish madness,” said the German.
About 65,000 people, mostly Jews, died during Stutthof’s six years of existence in what was then occupied Poland.
Many were murdered in his gas chamber, while others succumbed to hunger, disease and exhaustion.
Given Dey’s age, court sessions were limited to two hours a day twice a week, with breaks every 45 minutes, and a medical team was on hand to monitor him during the proceedings.
Extra care was also taken to ensure that the case – which opened in October last year – crosses the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is believed that his trial could be one of the last of its kind, although there are dozens of cases opened in Germany against people accused of being involved in the Holocaust, according to German broadcaster NDR.
In recent years, prosecutors have successfully convicted former death camp guards on the grounds that by helping the camps operate, they were complicit in the killings, even without evidence of involvement in a specific murder.
Over six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust under the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.