By Tom Roberts
The mills of the gods – and justice – grind slowly.
It’s been three quarters of a century, but now New Jersey resident Asia Shindelman is willing to talk about the hell she lived through at the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland.
On trial now is one-time Stutthof SS guard Bruno Dey, age 93. At the proceedings in Hamburg, Germany, which started in October and should stretch until February, he has been charged with being an accessory to the murder of 5,230 Jews from 1944 to 1945.
“They treat animals better than they treated us,” Shindelman said. “[Dey] is not human. He must leave this trial as a guilty man.”
“It’s [possibly] the last opportunity to hear living witnesses,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, which helps Holocaust victims, told the New York Post. “It’s important for the trial to have testimony from witnesses who . . . remember daily lynchings, people being murdered, the gas chambers and crematoriums,” he added. “It was a factory of death.”
In Dey’s first comments at the trial, the former SS private told the court that “the images of misery and horror have haunted me my entire life,” according to the UK’s Independent. “He apologized to the victims of the camp, saying he had been posted there unwillingly after being deemed unfit for combat duty due to a heart ailment. Though there is no evidence Mr Dey was involved in a specific killing at the camp, prosecutors argue he helped the camp function in his role as a guard.”
During the trial, “Dey has admitted seeing people being led into the gas chamber, and hearing screaming and banging sounds behind the locked door. But he has denied being guilty of accessory to murder, and complained that the trial had “destroyed” the last years of his life,” noted The Guardian.
Witness Marek Dunin-Wąsowicz told the Guardian that “SS guards like Dey carried out three types of tasks: overlooking the camp from watchtowers, armed with machine guns; watching over prisoners while they worked outside the compound; and escorting them to places where they were executed. Even if brutal beatings were usually administered by the kapos – mostly German prisoners tasked with supervising other inmates – he said the SS guards played a crucial role: “The kapos beat prisoners to death because they were being supervised. Their viciousness was an expression of their will to survival – they had to excel at their task to avoid being made ordinary prisoners again.”