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Nazi camp guard denies knowledge of mass murder

November 15, 2018

The 94-year-old defendant testified that he thought prisoners' deaths were the result of "miserable conditions" in the camp. Some 65,000 people were killed in the Stutthof concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Former concentration camp Stutthof, near Gdansk, Poland
Image: picture alliance/AP Images/C. Sokolowski

In court proceedings against a 94-year-old man on trial for accessory to murder in 100 counts, his lawyers read further testimony in which the defendant proclaimed his innocence. The statement included no apology to the victims or survivors.

The man, who served as an SS guard at the Stutthof concentration camp in the Nazi-annexed Free City of Danzig  Poland, claimed that he had no idea that prisoners were being killed. He acknowledged that he was aware of the "miserable conditions" there but attributed deaths to "diseases and epidemics."

Read more: Former SS guard stands trial on murder accessory charges

The defendant wiped away tears multiple times as he listened to his lawyer read out his statement to the court.

"As a Christian, it was difficult for me to be part of it all, but I was too frightened to protest," his statement said. "It was a great shock to see how Germans treated the prisoners."

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'They told me where to go and I obeyed'

The defendant, who is not named in accordance with German privacy laws, claimed he had little knowledge of "the structure inside the camp." He said he simply did what he was ordered: "They told me where to go, and I obeyed."

Despite having served as a guard at the camp for more than two years, he claimed he never saw any transport trains arrive.

Statistics compiled by Germany's main agency responsible for the investigation of Nazi crimes says that 65,000 people were killed at the camp — either in its gas chambers, by lethal injection, gunshot or other means.

Prosecutors said the defendant must be held accountable for the role he played in helping the camp operate.

The former SS guard is being tried as a juvenile because he was under 21 when he worked at Stutthof between June 1942 and September 1944.

js,ap/sms (AP, dpa)