Berlin, Germany – A former SS guard identified as Johann Rehbogenhas has gone on trial in Germany. He is accused of complicity in mass murder at the Stutthof concentration camp, in what is now northern Poland, during World War Two.
The 94-year-old served in the Nazi death camp from June 1942 to September 1944 but denies knowing anything about the atrocities that were committed there. Because he was not yet aged 21, he is being tried in a juvenile court.
According to a court press release, the crimes include the use of Zyklon B poison gas to kill more than 100 Polish prisoners on 21-22 June 1944, at least 77 wounded Soviet POWs during the summer of 1944, as well as an unknown number of Jewish prisoners said to be “probably several hundred”, between August and the end of 1944. He is also being accused of shooting “several hundred” Jews between June 1944 and April 1945, and killing 140 people with poison injections to the heart between 1942 and the end of 1944.
While the former guard faces a 15-year sentence if convicted, many believe he is unlikely to serve any time due to his old age.
Stutthof was the first Nazi concentration camp to be set up outside German borders during World War Two. It was also the last camp to be liberated by the Allies on 9 May 1945. Between 63,000 and 65,000 prisoners are estimated to have died there.
British-Polish actress Ingrid Pitt, famously known for her role as British spy Heidi Schmidt in Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, was detained there for three years with her family before escaping.
Situated 55 km east of Gdańsk in modern-day Poland, much of Stutthof was razed to the ground but a museum and a reconstruction can still be visisted today.