Ex-SS guard, 93, tells German court ‘sorry for what he did’

German Bruno D. arrives for his trial in Hamburg court, Germany accused of being involved in killing, and helping to murder thousands of prisoners in the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2019

Ex-SS guard, 93, tells German court ‘sorry for what he did’

  • Bruno Dey stands accused of abetting the murder of 5,230 people when he worked at the Stutthof camp
  • While he insisted that he did not join the deadly operation voluntarily, he voiced regret for his actions

HAMBURG: A former SS guard, 93, said he was sorry for his actions as he went on trial in Germany on Thursday for complicity in the murder of more than 5,000 people at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
In what could be one of the last such cases of surviving Nazi guards, Bruno Dey stands accused of abetting the murder of 5,230 people when he worked at the Stutthof camp near what was then Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.
While he insisted that he did not join the deadly operation voluntarily, he voiced regret for his actions.
“That’s what he said in his interrogation: He felt sorry for what he did,” said his lawyer Stefan Waterkamp.
“It was also clear to him that (the inmates) were not in there because they were criminals, but for anti-Semitic, racist and other reasons. He had compassion for them. But he did not see himself in a position to free them.”
Seated in a wheelchair, Dey wore a hat and sunglasses and hid his face behind a red folder as he entered the courtroom.
Waterkamp said his client was “ready to respond to all questions,” underlining that Dey “did not join the SS voluntarily. He did not seek to serve at the concentration camp.”
Prosecutors said nevertheless that as an “SS guard at Stutthof concentration camp between August 1944 and April 1945, he is believed to have provided support to the gruesome killing of Jewish prisoners in particular.”
Although the trial comes late, Jewish groups underlined its importance in light of contemporary far-right anti-Semitic violence like last week’s deadly shooting in the eastern city of Halle.
“Why are you doing this trial today? Remember what happened in Halle last week,” said Efraim Zuroff of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center, in reference to the attack that included a synagogue among targets.
“Old age should not be a reason not to judge... He was part of the greatest tragedy in history, it was his will.”

During Dey’s time at the camp, the “Final Solution” order to exterminate Jews was issued by the Nazi leadership, leading to the systematic killing of inmates in gas chambers, while others died of starvation or because they were denied medical care, prosecutors said.
Despite his advanced age, Dey is being tried by a juvenile court in Hamburg because he was 17 when he first worked at Stutthof.
According to German media, Dey, who now lives in Hamburg, became a baker after the war.
Married with two daughters, he supplemented his income by working as a truck driver, before later taking on a job in building maintenance.
The law finally caught up with him as a result of the legal precedent set when former guard John Demjanjuk was convicted in 2011 on the basis that he served as part of the Nazi killing machine at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.
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.
In the same vein, Dey is “accused of having contributed as a cog in the murder machine, in full knowledge of the circumstances, so that the order to kill could be carried out,” prosecutors said.

During pre-trial questioning, Dey said he ended up in the SS-Totenkopfsturmbahn (Death’s Head Battalion) that ran the camp only because of a heart condition that prevented him from being sent to the front, according to Tagesspiegel daily.
Dey also reportedly confirmed he knew of the camp’s gas chambers, where he saw SS prisoners being pushed inside.
He admitted seeing “emaciated figures, people who had suffered,” but insisted he was not guilty, according to the daily Die Welt.
The Nazis set up the Stutthof camp in 1939, initially using it to detain Polish political prisoners.
But it ended up holding 110,000 detainees, including many Jews. Some 65,000 people perished in the camp.
Since the landmark Demjanjuk ruling, German courts have convicted Oskar Groening, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at the same camp, for complicity in mass murder.
Both men were found guilty at age 94 but died before they could be imprisoned.
In April, a German judge suspended the trial of a former Stutthof concentration camp guard after the 95-year-old defendant was hospitalized with heart and kidney problems.


Missing Seoul mayor’s body found after massive search

Updated 09 July 2020

Missing Seoul mayor’s body found after massive search

  • Police said they were looking for Won-soon wooded hills stretching across northern Seoul where his cellphone signal was last detected

SEOUL: Police say the body of the missing mayor of South Korea’s capital, Seoul, has been found. They say Park Won-soon’s body was located in hills in northern Seoul early Friday, more than seven hours after they launched a massive search for him. Park’s daughter had called police on Thursday afternoon to report him missing, saying he had given her a “will-like” message before leaving home. News reports say one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday night over alleged sexual harassment.
Police said they were looking for Won-soon in wooded hills stretching across northern Seoul where his cellphone signal was last detected. They said the phone was currently turned off.
The daughter didn’t explain the contents of the message, said an officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency who was responsible for the search operation.
His daughter said she decided to call police because she couldn’t reach her father on the phone, the officer said, requesting anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media about the matter.
Kim Ji-hyeong, a Seoul Metropolitan Government official, said Park did not come to work on Thursday for unspecified reasons and had canceled all of his schedule, including a meeting with a presidential official at his Seoul City Hall office.
The reason for Park’s disappearance wasn’t clear. The Seoul-based SBS television network reported that one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday night over alleged sexual harassment such as unwanted physical contact that began in 2017. The SBS report, which didn’t cite any source, said the secretary told police investigators that an unspecified number of other female employees at Seoul City Hall had suffered similar sexual harassment by Park.
MBC television carried a similar report.
Both the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and Park’s office said they couldn’t confirm the reports.
Police officer Lee Byeong-seok told reporters that Park was last identified by a security camera at 10:53 a.m. at the entrance to the hills, more than six hours before his daughter called police to report him missing.
About 600 police and fire officers using drones searched unsuccessfully for hours Thursday evening. Fire officer Jeong Jin-hyang said rescuers were using dogs to search dangerous areas on the hills, and helicopters would be deployed Friday morning if Park were not found overnight.
Park, 64, a longtime civic activist and human rights lawyer, was elected Seoul mayor in 2011. He became the city’s first mayor to be voted into a third term in June last year. A member of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, he has been considered a potential presidential candidate in 2022 elections.
Park has mostly maintained his activist colors as mayor, criticizing what he described as the country’s growing social and economic inequalities and corrupt ties between large businesses and politicians.
As a lawyer, he was credited for winning the country’s first sexual harassment conviction. He has also been an outspoken critic of Japan’s colonial-era policies toward Korea, including the mobilization of Korean and other women as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.
Park also established himself as a fierce opponent of former conservative President Park Geun-hye and openly supported the millions of people who flooded the city’s streets in late 2016 and 2017, calling for her ouster over a corruption scandal.
Park Geun-hye, a daughter of late authoritarian leader Park Chung-hee, was formally removed from office in March 2017 and is currently serving a decades-long prison term on bribery and other charges.
Seoul, a city of 10 million people, has been a new center of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea since the country eased its rigid social distancing rules in early May. Authorities are struggling to trace contacts amid surges in cases linked to nightclubs, church services, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door sellers in Seoul.
Park Won-soon has led an aggressive anti-virus campaign, shutting down thousands of nightspots and banning rallies in major downtown streets.