18:58 GMT27 February 2020
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    On Thursday, a German chief prosecutor charged a 92-year-old man from Hamburg identified by the German outlet Die Welt as Bruno Dey with assisting in the murders of 5,230 Jewish prisoners during his tenure as a guard at the Stutthof concentration camp during World War II.

    Dey was 17 years old at the time he committed the crimes he stands accused of, and will be tried as a juvenile by the court.

    According to Die Welt, Dey was a member of the SS, the Nazi paramilitary organization that in large part directly enacted and oversaw the regime's genocidal goals. He served as a watchman on a guard tower at the Stutthof camp near the city of Danzig, now Gdansk, in Poland, for eight months toward the tail end of World War II, between 1944 and 1945.

    Dey, who is a baker, claims that he never supported Nazi ideology and has expressed regret that so many innocent lives were lost during the war. He has said he played no direct role in any of the deaths at the camps, though he admitted witnessing emaciated bodies and people being led to gas chambers, obviously to be executed. Dey is accused of being an accessory to murder for his work in the camp.

    Dey has been described by prosecuting officials as "a little wheel in the machinery of murder," AP reports.

    Stutthof served as a concentration camp starting in 1942, and started functioning as an extermination camp two years later. At this time, most prisoners who arrived at the camp were divided into two camps — the healthy, and the old or sick. The former were forced into labor tasks, while the latter were killed in the multiple gas chambers at the campsite. The camp housed 110,000 Jewish prisoners at the time; 65,000 of them died there.

    Last year, German authorities charged another former SS guard, now 95 years old, who had worked at the Mauthausen camp in northern Austria from 1944 to 1945. He was accused of helping put to death 36,000 Jews at the camp.

    The SS, or Schutzstaffel, started as a small protective unit for the senior leadership of the Nazi party. After Heinrich Himmler, a fervent supporter of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic ideology, took over the SS in 1929, he expanded its membership to more than 250,000 operatives.

    During the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders following World War II, the SS was declared a criminal organization for committing crimes against humanity.


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