German Court Convicts 93-year-old Man for Nazi Crimes

July 23, 2020 Updated: July 23, 2020

BERLIN—A German court convicted a 93-year old German man of helping to murder 5,232 prisoners, many Jewish, at a Nazi concentration camp in World War Two and handed him a suspended two-year sentence in one of the last cases against Nazi-era crimes.

Bruno D., who had been an SS guard in the Stutthof concentration camp near Gdansk in what is today Poland, was guilty of being involved in killings between August 1944 and April 1945, the Hamburg court said on Thursday.

Bruno D Nazi Crime judges
Judge Anne Meier-Goering (C) attends the start of a trial against 93-year-old German Bruno D., accused of being an SS guard involved in killings of thousands of prisoners, many of them Jewish, during World War II, in a Hamburg court room, Germany, on July 23, 2020. (Fabian Bimmer/Pool/Reuters)

He had acknowledged his presence at the camp but argued that did not amount to guilt.

About 65,000 people, including many Jews, were murdered or died at Stutthof, according to the museum’s website. Prosecutors have argued that many were shot in the back of the head or gassed with the lethal Zyklon B gas.

As he was only 17 or 18 years old at the time of the crimes, he was subject to youth sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors had called for a three-year prison sentence.

In his final testimony to the court earlier this week, Bruno D. apologized for the suffering victims went through but stopped short of taking responsibility, German media reported.

“I would like to apologize to all the people who have gone through this hell of insanity and to their relatives and survivors,” he told the court this week, broadcaster NDR and many other media outlets reported.

Bruno D Nazi Crime
The 93-year-old German Bruno D. accused of being an SS guard involved in killings of thousands of prisoners, many of them Jewish, between August 1944 and April 1945, in the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp near Gdansk, Poland, arrives for expecting his verdict in his trial, in a Hamburg court room, Germany, on July 23, 2020. (Fabian Bimmer/Reuters)

The defendant’s frail health has meant that court sessions were limited to two to three hours per day.

Although the number of suspects is dwindling due to old age, prosecutors are still trying to bring individuals to justice. A landmark conviction in 2011 opened the way to more prosecutions as it was the first time that working in a camp was sufficient grounds for culpability, with no proof of a specific crime.

By Madeline Chambers