The Hamburg court on Thursday sentenced a 93-year-old former concentration camp guard to two years in prison for complicity in thousands of murders perpetrated between 1944 and 1945 in Stutthof in Nazi-occupied Poland.
“It is a condemnation of principle”, reacted Thursday July 23 on franceinfo the historian and lawyer Serge Klarsfeld, president and founder of the Association of the sons and daughters of the Jewish deportees of France, after the conviction two years in prison ofa 93-year-old former concentration camp guard for complicity in thousands of murders perpetrated between 1944 and 1945 in Stutthof in Poland. A verdict “exceptional”, says the lawyer. “This is the first time in the history of the world that we can still judge people 76 years after the fact.”
For Serge Klarsfeld, “What is very positive is that Germany still wants to judge the Nazi crime. But it only has before it the accused who are very old today”. The accused, Bruno Dey, was under 18 “when he was a guard in an extermination camp”, emphasizes Serge Klarsfeld. “And in the subordinate positions he occupied, there are no more witnesses. There is no document that would be able to establish his personal involvement. So this last step in the judgment of the Nazi criminals, at the same time one judges, at the same time one condemns. But one condemns to penalties which are penalties of principle which may seem ridiculous but which are not. “
The historian points out that the Germans “realized the immensity of the crime which had been committed in the name of the German people. Public opinion wants criminals or supposed criminals to be tried to their last breath. We are almost at the last breath”. Serge Klarsfeld assumes that “German magistrates, unlike prosecutors and on the contrary lawyers for civil parties, wish to put an end to this last stage of judgments”.
The condemnation therefore “one direction” because it manifests “the will of Germany” to judge former Nazis or war criminals, “and therefore to judge the Nazi crime through them”. He insists that this trial “helps to document what was the fate, for example, of the internees in the Tutto camp, which was a large camp. So there is historical material which still remains for future generations, which would not have been released without this trial “.
“Among those who acted at that time, there are certainly still all those who are over 95 years old and who were involved as a guard or as a member of the special extermination commandos”, specifies Serge Klarsfeld. But according to him, “They are not in hiding. They are sure not to go to jail because of their old age”. He imagines that he remains “Certainly a few dozen criminals who will die in peace or not in peace, with their conscience. But that is a question that cannot be dealt with. I am not competent to know what is going on in their head “, adds the historian.