Former Nazi SS concentration camp guards charged over hundreds of Holocaust deaths

The two men – aged 91 and 93 – served at the Stutthof concentration camp, located near what is now the Polish city of Gdansk

Jeff Farrell
Thursday 16 November 2017 15:17 GMT
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About 65,000 people died at Stutthof concentration camp – either gassed or shot, while others died from malnutrition or froze to death
About 65,000 people died at Stutthof concentration camp – either gassed or shot, while others died from malnutrition or froze to death

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Two former Nazi SS guards in their 90s have been charged over the hundreds who were killed while they worked at a Second World War concentration camp, prosecutors in Germany said.

The pair, who were not named, served as guards at the Stutthof concentration camp, located near what is now the Polish city of Gdansk, according to the officials.

The 93-year-old man worked there from June 1942 to September 1944 and a 92-year-old man was based there from June 1944 to May 1945, they added.

The pair, who are respectively from the cities of Borken and Wuppertal in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state, both deny they had any knowledge of killings at the camp, officials said.

The charges - accessories to murder - were filed last week at the state court in the city of Muenster but only announced on Wednesday because the defendants first had to be notified, prosecutor Andreas Brendel said.

About 65,000 people died at Stutthof. Some were put to death in gas chambers or shot, while others died from malnutrition or froze to death.

The men both served as guards and also watched over prisoners who were taken outside the camp to work. During the time they were at Stutthof, hundreds of killings occurred.

Members of the SS killed more than 100 Polish prisoners and some 77 Soviet prisoners of war in the camp's gas chamber in 1944. An unknown number of Jews also were gassed there in late 1944.

Between June 1944 and April 1945, SS members also killed several hundred Jews by shooting them in the back of the neck. SS-physicians and nurses at Stutthof killed more than 140 prisoners, many of them Jewish women and children, by injecting their hearts with gasoline and the chemical compound phenol from late 1942 until late 1944.

"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 court wrote in a statement.

The two men therefore willingly supported several hundreds of killings of camp inmates in their function as guards, it added.

Paul Charney, chair of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, said that guards in the Stutthof camp "must forever be hunted and exposed".

A statement to The Independent said: “The horrific crimes do not dissipate with time especially for the victims and their families. The memory of the perished 65,000 deserve justice and whilst that can never be absolute, those who enabled the crimes must forever be hunted and exposed.

"Offenders must know they cannot run nor hide and that their deeds will forever be etched notoriously in the sewers of history. Thus, the message to the world, is that this can never happen again we Jews will not allow it."

German prosecutors in recent years have pursued Nazi suspects under new legal reasoning that, even without evidence of a specific crime, they can be prosecuted if they helped camps operate.

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