Trial of Nazi death camp guard hears closing arguments

The defendant is being charged for being an accessory to the murder of over 5,000 people at the Stutthof concentration camp during World War II.

'Death Gate' at Stutthof Concentration Camp (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
'Death Gate' at Stutthof Concentration Camp
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Prosecutors presented their closing arguments for the case of 93-year-old former Nazi death camp guard Bruno Dey – who was stationed at the Stutthof concentration camp in northern Poland during World War II – requesting a three-year prison term for failure to act and for being an accessory to murder during the Holocaust, according to Deutsche Welle.
If convicted, the former SS guard could face up to ten years in prison – which is likely a death sentence, given his advanced age. Prosecutors are requesting a three-year prison term.
He denies any guilt, claiming that he never bought into the Nazi ideology.
"[Dey] provided the very definition of accessory to murder," said prosecutor Lars Mahnke during his closing arguments in the Hamburg court, adding that he chose to "look away" instead of relinquishing his post.
The defendant is specifically being charged for being an accessory to the murder of over 5,000 people at Stutthof during World War II, with prosecutors adding that he forcefully kept people as prisoners and was involved in the suppression of prisoner revolts.
Dey began his service with the SS-Totenkopfsturmbann (Death’s Head Battalion) at the age of 17 and guarded the watchtowers of Stutthof until age 18. He is therefore being tried by a juvenile court, despite his current age.
He claims that he was stationed at Stutthof due to a heart condition, which impeded him from serving on the front lines. The defense team also notes that if it weren't for the "broader" crimes of the Nazi regime, he would have never been connected to the war crimes, according to DW.
"I don't bear any guilt for what happened back then," the defendant told the Hamburg court last year, according to the international public broadcaster. "I didn't contribute anything to it, other than standing guard. But I was forced to do it; it was an order."
Prosecutors claim that the former guard was aware of the war crimes being committed at the Nazi death camp but chose not to act, or take the option of stepping down from his guard tower to proclaim that he "can't do this anymore."
"When you are a part of a mass-murder machinery, it is not enough to look away," Mahnke said.
Dey has admitted that he served at the camp and had knowledge of what took place, but has denied any complicity in the deaths of inmates.
“I probably knew that these were Jews who hadn’t committed a crime, that they were only in here because they were Jews,” Dey said before his trial evaluation last year, according to the German newspaper Die Welt. “And they have a right to live and work freely like every other human being.”
Stutthof opened in September 1939, initially to detain Polish political prisoners. It was the first Nazi camp set up outside German borders during the Second World War. Stutthof was also the last camp liberated by the Allies on May 9, 1945.
Some 63,000 people reportedly died at Stutthof during World War II, including 28,000 Jews.

Alex Winston contributed to this report.