On Monday, a 92-year-old former officer of the Nazi SS, Siert Bruins, appeared in a German court on charges that he murdered some 70 years ago a Dutch resistance fighter. Bruins served as a border guard while he was a member of Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS troops.
The trial will only take place three hours per day because of Siert Bruins’ advanced age.
If he is found guilty of murdering, in September 1944, Albert Klaas Dijkema, Bruins could face a sentence of life in prison.
During the time of the alleged murder, the Dutch-born German, Mr. Bruins, was ordered to military duty on the Dutch-German border, which is where the murder occurred.
The trial of Bruins might be one of the last trials of WWII Nazis accused of committing war crimes held in Germany. It is being held in the western German town of Hagen.
Bruins is a native of the town of Groningen, which is located in the north-east part of the Netherlands. He has the dubious distinction of being among the last of the Nazis who are still alive to be placed on trial for his war crimes in Germany.
The last such Nazi war criminal who was placed on trial there was Heinrich Boere, who was also a former SS officer. In December of 2011, Boere began serving a life sentence for the murders during WWII of three Dutch civilians.
Bruins is charged with the shooting death of Aldert Klaas Dijkema which occurred in September of 1944. Dijkema was shot four times including once in the back of his head east of Groningen in the Appingedam area of Germany. The indictment states that Bruins and an accomplice took him to an abandoned factory took Mr. Dijkema to an abandoned factory, where he was shot and killed.
He does not deny having been at the scene when the shooting took place, but he claims he did not fire the fatal shots that killed Dijkema.
A reporter for a German TV program asked Bruins about what happened on the date of the murder, and he said he’s been marching alongside Dijkema when he heard the gunfire that took the Dutchman’s life.
An alleged accomplice of Bruins was also accused of the murder, but that man has passed away.
Bruins resided in Germany following WWII. According to Stephen Evans of the BBC, authorities in Germany denied requests from officials in the Netherlands to extradite him to face trial there.
Previously, in 1980, Bruins was placed on trial in Germany and sentenced to prison for seven years for murdering two Jewish brothers during the war.
Under the Fuehrer’s Decree, in 1943, Bruins became a citizen of Germany. The decree granted German nationality on anyone who was foreign born but served the Nazi cause.
Written by: Douglas Cobb