A former Nazi concentration camp guard has been charged by German prosecutors with 5,230 counts of accessory to murder.
Prosecutors in the northern city of Hamburg said Thursday the 92-year-old suspect, identified in court documents as Bruno D., is accused of assisting in the “malicious and cruel” killing of mainly Jewish inmates through his work as a guard at the Stutthof concentration camp between August 1944 and April 1945.
Prosecutors alleged the man, who was aged 17-18 at the time, was “a little wheel in the machinery of murder” which saw thousands of people shot dead, poisoned or starved toward the end of the Second World War.
Despite his advanced years, the accused will be tried by a juvenile court in Hamburg, because he was 17 when he first worked at the Stutthof camp, near what was then Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.
German daily Die Welt reported the man told investigators he was aware of the camp’s gas chambers and saw bodies taken to the crematoriums.
The trained baker reportedly insisted he was never a Nazi and only ended up in the SS-Totenkopfsturmbahn (Death’s Head Battalion), which ran the camp, because of a heart disease.
According to the report, Dey confirmed he had guard duties at the watchtowers and 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 insists he is not guilty, replying “what use would it have done? They would have just found someone else” when asked why he did not put in a transfer to fight at the front, Die Welt reported.
Germany has been racing to put on trial surviving concentration camp personnel, after the legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis changed in 2011 with the landmark conviction of former death camp guard John Demjanjuk.
As Breitbart News reported, he was sentenced not for any atrocities he committed, but on the basis that he served as a cog in the Nazi killing machine at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.
German courts subsequently convicted Oskar Groening, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at the same camp, for mass murder.
However both men, convicted at age 94, died before they could be imprisoned.
AFP contributed to this report
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: email@example.com