Germany : held, a former guard of nazi camp cries in the face of the victims

Allemagne : jugé, un ancien garde de camp nazi pleure face aux victimes

The concentration camp, Stutthof in Northern Poland.

A former guard at the nazi camp of Stutthof was mourned Tuesday after hearing testimony from descendants of the victims on the first day of his trial for complicity in hundreds of murders.

This German 94-year-old, established and held in Münster, served between June 1942 and September 1944 in this camp, located forty kilometres from Gdansk. Between the ages of 18 and 20 years old at the time of the facts, it is considered as a minor. The public prosecutor has not disclosed his identity, but according to the daily newspaper “Die Welt”, it is a landscape designer retired named Johann.

He arrived before the court in a wheelchair, a bob on the head and a cane in the hand but is not expressed. In front of him, 17 civil parties.
The accused was not able to hold back his tears, according to the agency dpa, after the first two testimonies. A survivor of the camp, Marga Griesbach, has told how she has seen his brother in six years for the last time in Stutthof, before his transfer to the extermination camp of Auschwitz where he died was gassed.

All the ways to kill

“It has helped my mother be killed, this much-beloved mother that I was so missed all my life,” said another witness, now living in Indianapolis in the United States, and whose name has not been released by cca.

“Stutthof, all the ways to kill, or nearly have been employed”, said to the press the prosecutor of Dortmund, Andreas Brendel. According to the indictment, the accused having knowledge of these atrocities is made complicit in hundreds of murders. According to Die Welt, in his nineties, has denied to the police in August 2017 have known that atrocities were committed, claiming, inter alia, that the soldiers were suffering also from lack of food.

Has Stutthof, the first concentration camp established outside German territory at the end of 1939, 65 000 people on the approximately 110 000 deportees perished.

Guarded by the SS and the auxiliary ukrainians, it was first used for the detention of prisoners of war and opponents of Polish, Norwegian, or Danish before that of the Jews of the baltic countries and Poland, mostly women, were deported from 1944 in the framework of the “final solution” – nazi.

For me, who am of the third generation it is very important

“I am very grateful for the holding of this trial, no one in my family has believed that prosecutions were possible. For me, who am of the third generation it is very important,” said Ben Cohen, grandson of a deported, survivor of the camp, Judy Meisel.

14 scheduled hearings until January will be limited to two hours each in order to accommodate the in his nineties. A second hearing will take place on Thursday. Originally, a second ex-SS guard 93-year-old would have had to appear in court but his ability is still the subject of expertise. The accused faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, but a sentence as heavy is unlikely.

The German justice still attracts criticism for his late treatment of the crimes of the Third Reich, because it is only in recent years that Germany has sentenced several former SS for complicity in the murders : John Demjanjuk, Reinhold Hanning and Hubert Zafke.

A case law on the “complicity of murder”

In fact, since 2011, a case law allows prosecution for “complicity in murder” against those who participated in the operation of a camp. Until then, only the suspects directly involved in the killings could be prosecuted. All of the accused, very old at their sentencing, occupied positions subordinate during the war. And none went to prison through appeals, or by reason of their state of health.

In march, Oskar Gröning, known as the “accountant of Auschwitz,” died at 96 years old shortly before his incarceration after a conviction to four years of detention.

The trial, which opens Tuesday, is therefore “a gesture to say no more of this”, says the historian, specialist of nazism, Peter Schöttler, “if you could see through this case, we would always have an excuse to pass another”. “For the relatives and victims of the crimes of national socialism, Germany must investigate further today on these facts and prosecute these offences”, says the prosecutor Brendel.


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