x
Breaking News
More () »

Minneapolis St. Paul News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | Minneapolis, Minnesota | kare11.com

Former Nazi guard found guilty of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder

A survivor of that camp, Judy Meisel, was a witness and her testimony was a part of the evidence to convict him.

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — Justice delayed for 86 years that has finally, come.

A Nazi guard in a concentration camp has been found guilty of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder.

A survivor of that camp was a witness to that guard's horror and her testimony was a part of the evidence to convict him.

Her name is Judy Meisel.

Meisel was 14-years-old when she and her family were stolen from the lives they lived, and imprisoned in the Stutthof concentration camp.

She was there with her sister, and her mother.

Her mother was murdered in the gas chamber, she and her sister, escaped the camp, where 65,000 people were killed.

By the time Meisel arrived in America and became an adult, she started fulfilling a promise she said she made in the barracks at Stutthof.

If she survived, she said on many nights, she promised to tell her and their stories.

“I am really fortunate that my grandmother is one of those people who has spent her whole life telling her story as a warning for us as to where racism, bigotry and intolerance can lead,” Meisel’s grandson, Ben Cohen said.

Meisel's life work of survival was singular: Tell the story so that every single person she would tell, would then be a witness to the truth of the Holocaust.

"She taught us this story since as long as I can remember," Cohen said. "We talked about it consistently and it wasn't until the FBI called our family in 2016 that the thought of some kind of criminal justice for what happened was possible."

When that call came, Meisel was 87-years-old.

She had created so many witnesses to the Holocaust with her story; so it mattered that she was finally being asked to be an actual witness.

And it mattered even more because of who was doing the asking.

RELATED: German court convicts 93-year-old former concentration camp guard

“Just that moment alone, at the beginning of all of this, for her to be sitting in her apartment with German authorities asking her to tell us what happened (and them saying) we want to find justice for you," Cohen said. "To think of what is going on in her mind, to be sitting with people from Germany 70-plus years later saying we care and are trying to do what's right, meant the most to her in this whole process, I think.”

The trial of 93-year-old Bruno Dey, the former Nazi guard, began last fall.

Cohen went on behalf of the family.

“For me, it was definitely shocking to suddenly be in the room with this person that you know is a Nazi and stood on a watchtower over my family so many years ago,” Cohen said.

He said Dey's early defense was, yes, he was a guard at the camp, but what happened there wasn't his fault.

Cohen said he was drawn to trying to understand how then, how could this guard and thousands of others standby and be associated with the genocide the Nazi's perpetrated.

RELATED: Brothers who survived Holocaust die weeks apart

RELATED: Holocaust survivor recalls the lie that saved her life at Auschwitz

“You know you look around and it makes you wonder and think about the fact that these were normal people who were convinced to do evil, evil things and that's a lesson that is very eye-opening for me,” Cohen said.

A lesson he's still wrestling with, even when he got the news.

"When I did learn he was found guilty, it was a huge sense of relief,” Cohen said.

"This trial had nothing to do with trying to seek out punishment, no 'eye-for-an-eye' here at all, we just wanted the truth. My grandmother made a promise in the barracks at Stutthof to share her story. It was an opportunity for her to share her story and, I think, in a way that was profoundly meaningful for her. The context for her to be listened to in Germany was beyond what I wished for her in her lifetime, to be able to do that.”