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.


Three dead in Scotland passenger train derailment

Updated 12 August 2020

Three dead in Scotland passenger train derailment

  • Smoke could be seen rising from the scene in pictures broadcast on television news channels
  • The driver is believed to be one of the fatalities, according to police, with six other people hospitalised

Stonehaven, UK: Three people died when a passenger train derailed in northeast Scotland on Wednesday, police said, in what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described as "an extremely serious incident".
"Very sadly despite the best efforts of paramedics, we can confirm that three people have been pronounced dead at the scene," British Transport Police said in a statement.
The crash, close to the town of Stonehaven around 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of Aberdeen, followed severe flooding across parts of the region overnight.
Smoke could be seen rising from the scene in pictures broadcast on television news channels.
"The emergency services are currently on site and a major incident has been declared," Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament.
"I am afraid to say that there are early reports of serious injuries," she added, after earlier noting on Twitter it was an "extremely serious incident".
The driver is believed to be one of the fatalities, according to police, with six other people hospitalised, although none of their injuries are though to be serious.
Some 30 emergency vehicles were attending the scene of the derailment which happened at 9:40am (08:40 GMT).
Union TSSA said the train was the 06:38 (05:38 GMT) service travelling from Aberdeen to Glasgow.
Sturgeon added that the incident happened in an area where it was difficult for emergency services to access.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected. My thanks to the emergency services at the scene."
Thunderstorms and torrential rain battered parts of central and eastern Scotland overnight, creating hazardous travelling conditions.
Photos posted on social media by local authorities showed heavy flooding in the nearby town of Stonehaven early Wednesday.
Network Rail Scotland, the company which looks after the rail infrastructure, said it was working alongside emergency services.
"It is too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known," it said.
Moments after the emergency services had been notified of the accident, Network Rail reported there had been a landslip close by.
The local arm of Britain's National Health Service said it was setting up "major incident support" in Aberdeen for relatives and friends of anyone involved in the incident.
The BBC reported that one casualty was airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital.
Local MP Andrew Bowie said a "major emergency service response" was underway and he had spoken to the British transport minister, Grant Shapps, about the incident.
Shapps added on Twitter that he was in touch with Network Rail and other agencies and vowed "the UK Government will provide every support".
Britain's last major rail derailment was in 2007 in Cumbria, in northwest England, when a train on the main west coast line left the tracks, killing one passenger and seriously injuring 30 others.