Minnesota Woman Helps Indict Nazi Death Camp Guards

88-year-old helped identify former SS officer
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2017 1:54 AM CST
Minnesota Holocaust Survivor Helps Bring Guards to Justice
Jens Rommel, the head of a special prosecutors' office that looks into Nazi war crimes,poses in Ludwigsburg, Germany.   (Marijan Murat/dpa via AP,file)

Judith Meisel says that when she was a teenager in the Stutthof concentration camp in western Poland, other prisoners told her: "Don't let us die without you mentioning what happened to us." The 88-year-old Minnesota resident has not forgotten: Her testimony helped German authorities indict two former guards from the camp where 65,000 people, including Meisel's mother, died, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. She identified one former guard, 94-year-old Johann Rehbogen, as the young SS officer who would taunt female prisoners as they undressed. Prosecutors say the men can't be tied to specific murders, but their work as guards made the killings possible.

Meisel—who escaped along with her sister when inmates were sent on a "death march" away from the camp in 1945—says she is willing to relive her horrific experiences to help prosecutors. "This process of seeking answers and finding justice for my mother gives new meaning to my life," she says. The two former guards have been charged as accessories to murder, the AP reports. They deny any knowledge of killings at the camp, where thousands were starved to death or froze. Prosecutors say prisoners were also gassed to death, shot, and killed with lethal injections. Authorities say Meisel and several other Stutthof survivors in the US could be called as witnesses if the former guards are deemed healthy enough to stand trial. (A pendant found at the Sobibor camp helped reunite a family.)

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