Two Nazi Concentration Camp guards, aged 92 and 93, charged with Holocaust crimes
Two Nazi concentration camp guards have finally been brought to justice, 72 years after the fact. According to prosecutor Andreas Brendel, the former SS guards; one a 93-year-old from Borken and the other, a 92-year-old from Wuppertal, were employed at the concentration camp at Stutthof, located close to what is now the Polish city of Gdansk. The former guards, who have remained unnamed, have since been charged with being accessories to murder for their Holocaust crimes.
The first man allegedly served in Stutthof from June 1942 till September 1944 and the second was purportedly employed from June 1944 to May 1945. Charges against the duo were filed last week at a state court in Muenster, Germany. However, they were only announced publicly yesterday as the defendants had to be notified first. Although both men have admitted that they were employed at Stutthof, Blendel says that they categorically deny that they had any knowledge about the murders that took place at the concentration camp.
In a statement released by the court yesterday, the prosecution expressed their belief that the two guards were complicit in the atrocities which took place at Stutthof:
"The prosecutors assume that the accused were aware of the different killing methods and that such a multitude of people could have only been killed with such regularity because the victims were guarded by helpers like them. The two men therefore willingly supported several hundreds of killings of camp inmates in their function as guards."
The Nazi concentration camp, Stutthof, was established after the invasion of Poland in WWII and its primary function was to imprison the Polish intelligentsia. In operation from the 2nd September 1939, it was the first Nazi camp to be erected outside of Germany, and was also the last concentration facility to be liberated by the Allies on the 9th May 1945.
It is estimated that around 63,000 and 65,000 people died at Stutthof. People were either murdered in gas chambers or shot, whilst other prisoners perished from malnutrition or the sub-zero temperatures. Furthermore, members of the Nazi party's SS are said to have killed over 100 Polish prisoners and around 77 Soviet prisoners of war in Stutthof's gas chambers in 1944. This is in addition to a number of Jewish citizens who were also gassed during the same year.
The concentration camp was also a site of some of the Nazi's medical "experiments". Physicians and nurses of the SS murdered over 140 prisoners, many of whom were believed to be Jewish women and children, by injecting their organs with gasoline and a chemical compound named phenol between 1942 and 1944.
In recent years, German prosecutors have been seeking out Nazi criminals under new legal reasoning which surmises that suspects can be prosecuted without evidence of a particular crime if they were involved in helping the camps operate.
We can only hope that the two men get the justice they deserve.