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94-Year-Old Former Nazi Guard: I Knew Nothing

Johann Rehbogen is on trial for his time at a concentration camp
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2018 12:56 PM CST
A former 94-year-old SS guard holds his walking stick at the beginning of a trial in Muenster, Germany, Tuesday, Nov.6, 2018.   (Guido Kirchner/dpa via AP)
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(Newser) – A former SS guard is on trial for allegedly serving as an accessory to hundreds of mass killings at a Nazi concentration camp, the AP reports. Johann Rehbogen, 94, isn't accused of a specific crime, but he served at Stutthof concentration camp in what is now Poland. More than 60,000 Jews and other Holocaust victims were killed there—by gas chamber, lethal injection, exposure, starvation, or simply being shot. Rehbogen, who was at the camp from 1942 to 1944, denies knowing about the killings. But others say he had to know: "Anyone who heard the screams from outside the gas chamber would have known that people were fighting for their lives," says prosecutor Andreas Brendel.

As he was under 21 at the time, Rehbogen is being tried in juvenile court in Germany and faces a possible 15-year sentence—which he likely wouldn't serve if found guilty due to his age, per the BBC. He's only appearing in court for two hours at a time but seems alert when asked questions by the judge. For the grandson of one survivor, seeing Germany continue to prosecute Holocaust perpetrators is empowering: "Her being able to witness even some of this process, even from afar, is a sense of closure," says Ben Cohen of his grandmother, Judy Meisel. "To have Germany listening to her is very powerful for her." (A "hero" who foiled the Nazi's nuclear dreams is dead.)

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