Prosecutors presented their closing arguments in the trial of Bruno D. The prosecution requested three years in prison for the former Nazi concentration camp guard. They told the Hamburg court that the defendant was the “very definition of accessory to murder.”
The 93-year-old defendant is being tried for complicity in the murder of over 5,000 people at the Stutthof camp during World War II.
Prosecutors presented the case that the former SS camp guard chose to look away from the atrocities he knew were being committed rather than resigning from his post.
The defense has plead that Bruno D has been a model citizen since the war ended. They pin the blame for the more than 60,000 people who were killed at the camp which is located near the current city of Gdansk, Poland.
Bruno D stated that he was assigned to the camp because he had a heart condition that kept him from serving on the front line. He claims that he never agreed with the Nazi ideology.
In fact, he stated to the judge that he did everything he could to avoid serving at the concentration camp, seeking to be assigned the kitchens in the Wehrmacht instead.
Bruno D did admit in court that he heard the screams of the victims as they died in the gas chambers but claimed that he was unaware that they were being gassed. He also said that he saw “a lot of corpses” and that the sight has haunted him for the rest of his life.
He told Judge Anna Meier-Goering that he did not contribute to the killings. He only stood guard and only did that because he was forced to do it under orders.
The defendant claimed that he was never given a tour of the camp when he arrived and that his orders were simply to keep the camp calm and ensure that no one approached the barbed wire fence that encircled the camp.
He said that he had only heard rumors that the camp contained Jews and political prisoners but did not know that for a fact.
Bruno D served as a camp guard while he was 17 – 18 years old. Therefore the trial is being held in a juvenile court despite being in his 90s now.
The prosecution holds the position that Bruno D’s participation was critical to the Nazis carrying out the “Final Solution” which was intended to systemically kill all Jews.
Should Bruno D be convicted, the penalty is a minimum of 6 months in jail and a maximum of 10 years. The verdict is expected later this month.
The Stutthof camp was erected in 1939. It was originally used to detain Polish political prisoners.
Eventually, the camp grew to hold 110,000 prisoners. Approximately 65,000 of them were killed at the camp.
There has been a push in Germany in recent years to focus on cases involving concentration camp suspects. These cases are often difficult to try due to the advanced ages of the accused.
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Another Stutthof guard, Johan R, could not be completed due to the heart and kidney conditions of the defendant. In a separate case, the charges were dropped when the 97-year-old defendant was too ill to appear before the judge.