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‘This must never happen again’: Ex-Nazi guard apologises to Holocaust victims

A 93-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard apologised to Holocaust victims at a Hamburg court on Monday, ahead of the verdict in the high-profile trial over his complicity in the World War II atrocities.

'This must never happen again': Ex-Nazi guard apologises to Holocaust victims
Dey on trial on Friday in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

“Today I would like to apologise to those who went through the hell of this madness, as well as to their relatives. Something like this must never happen again,” said Bruno Dey from the dock.

In what could be one of the last such cases of surviving Nazi guards, Dey stands accused of complicity in the murder of 5,230 people when he worked as an SS tower guard at the Stutthof camp near what was then Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.

READ ALSO: Former Nazi camp guard, 93, faces German court reckoning

The court is expected to issue its verdict on Thursday.

Prosecutors have sought three years in jail for the 93-year-old.

But in his summary on Monday, Dey's defence lawyer Stefan Waterkamp asked the court for an acquittal or a suspended sentence, saying his client “would not survive” jail.

Dey himself has denied any guilt for what happened at the camp, and said that the trial had “cost a lot of strength”.

“I would like to stress again that I would never have voluntarily signed up to the SS or any other unit — especially not in a concentration camp,” he said in his final statements before the court delivers its verdict.

“If I had seen an opportunity to remove myself from service, I would have done so.”

He added that he only became aware of the “extent of the atrocities” upon hearing witness testimonies and reports.

Yet one Stutthof survivor dismissed Dey's comments on Monday.

“I'm speechless. I don't want his apology, I don't need it,” Marek
Dunin-Wasowicz, a 93-year-old camp survivor told AFP via telephone from his home in Warsaw.

Visitors to the Stutthof concentration camp memorial site. Photo: DPA

'Inhumane conditions'

Dey is standing trial at a juvenile court because he was aged between 17 and 18 at the time.

Waterkamp, his lawyer, pointed out that such a young man could hardly have been expected to break ranks, and that the teenaged Dey “saw no escape”.

He added that as a mere tower guard, Dey would not have known the extent of the “sadism” and “inhumane conditions” of the camp.

Waterkamp also said that the Nazi crimes were “incomprehensible” and that the witness testimonies had “severely shaken” his client.

The Nazis set up the Stutthof camp in 1939, initially using it to detain Polish political prisoners.

But it ended up holding 110,000 detainees, including many Jews. Some 65,000 people perished in the camp.

READ ALSO: How Germany remembers the Holocaust

Dey, who now lives in Hamburg, became a baker after the war.

Married with two daughters, he supplemented his income by working as a truck driver, before later taking on a job in building maintenance.

He came into prosecutors' sights after a landmark 2011 ruling against former Sobibor camp guard John Demjanjuk on the basis that he was part of the Nazi killing machine.

Since then, Germany has been racing to put on trial surviving SS personnel on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

Another former guard at the Stutthof camp, now 95, was charged last week with complicity in the murder of several hundred people.

The district court in Wuppertal will have to determine with the help of experts if the accused in that case is fit for trial.

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Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs’ door policies in court

Bouncers at German nightclubs are legendary for their reluctance to let too many people through the door. A Munich man is now taking one club to court for turning him away based on his age.

Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs' door policies in court
Inside a night club in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In a case that could have an impact on clubs up and down the country, 47-year-old Nils Kratzer is challenging a nightclub’s door policy in the Federal Court in Karlsruhe on Thursday, arguing that a bouncer’s decision to turn him away at the door was discriminatory.

The incident occurred when Kratzer tried to get into an open air club night on the Praterinsel, a small island on the river Isar in Munich in 2017.

“I’ve never had anyone tell me to my face that I’m too old for a festival,” Kratzer said before the hearing. “On the contrary, I’ve often gone to festivals nationwide with my friends in the past and all ages have been represented.”

READ ALSO: ‘Alone Together’: How I had an unexpected night out at a German online bar

The club makes no bones about the fact that it told its bouncers to discriminate at the door, but argues that this was based on “optics” and not on age. It argues that, given that there was only space for 1,500 guests, it needed to discriminate on some grounds.

If Kratzer were to win the case, which he is basing on anti-discrimination laws introduced in 2006, it would force all German night clubs to review their door policies, as a ruling by a federal court sets a legal precedent.

But Kratzer has already failed to convince a Munich city court and a Bavarian state court of his case. At the Munich city court, he called his younger girlfriend to testify in order to establish his youthfulness.

Nils Kratzer. Photo: DPA

He also complained that Munich clubs have a culture of discrimination at their doors, saying one had turned him away for being a man, while he had also witnessed people being turned away based on their skin colour.

“Not all unequal treatment is discrimination,” argues Sandra Warden from the German Hotel and Restaurant Association. “Event organisers are free to decide whom they let in. The host’s right to decide is protected in our country.”

Warden said that clubs often discriminate based on age, such as at Ü-30 parties, ones where only people over the age of 30 are allowed to enter.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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