Auschwitz Guard Suspect, 93, Arrested in Germany as Accessory

Image: Auschwitz Guard Suspect, 93, Arrested in Germany as Accessory

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 08:48 AM

By Michael Mullins

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An Auschwitz guard suspect was arrested Monday by German authorities on suspicion of "multiple counts" of accessory to murder.

The 93-year-old, whose name was withheld by his attorney, which is permitted under German privacy laws, is accused of having been an SS medic at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in September 1944, when an estimated 1,700 people perished in the camp's gas chambers, the Associated Press reported.

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In total, about 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz camp complex alone between 1940 and 1945.

Stefan Urbanek, a spokesman for German prosecutors, told reporters Tuesday that the elderly man was deemed to be in good enough health to be held in custody by police after being examined by a doctor. The man has yet to be charged, as the investigation is pending.

The former SS guard is the latest arrest in a series stemming from a nationwide investigation of 50 former Auschwitz guard suspects identified by German federal prosecutors last year, 30 of which still live in Germany, the AP noted.

Reacting to Germany's renewed interest in prosecuting former members of the SS for war crimes, Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, told the AP last September that the decision could mean even more cases will be opened against guards at the other five main death camps established by Nazis.

"We commend the [prosecutors] for seeking to apply the precedent as widely as possible and hope that they will be able to find as many perpetrators as possible," Zuroff told the AP. "It's only a shame that this kind of legal reasoning was not applied previously, because it would have led to many, many more cases of people who definitely deserved to be brought to justice."

In May 2013, the United States deported another 93-year-old former SS guard who had reportedly lied about his past to get into the country after the war. The guard, Hans Lipschis, was subsequently taken into custody by German authorities who concluded that there was "compelling evidence" he was involved in crimes at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Lipschis reportedly pled not guilty and claimed he only served as a cook and was not involved in any war crimes.

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