Germany Calling for Prosecution of Former Auschwitz Guards

Head Justice Agency Says 40 Nazis Still at Large

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published September 03, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

LUDWIGSBURG, Germany- German justice officials called on Tuesday for 30 former Nazi guards to face prosecution for their role in facilitating mass murder at the Auschwitz death camp during World War Two.

The Nazis killed some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews but also Roma, Poles and others, at Auschwitz in occupied Poland between 1940 and 1945.

Nearly seven decades on, the hunt is no longer focused on high-level perpetrators of the Holocaust but on bringing to justice thousands of people who helped to manage the Nazis’ death machine.

The justice agency in the town of Ludwigsburg, which heads German probes into Nazi war crimes, said a total of 40 former guards from Auschwitz - the largest of the Nazi death camps - were still alive and 30 of them lived in Germany.

German media said the oldest was born in 1916 and the youngest in 1926. Justice campaigners say their advanced age makes it urgent that they are brought swiftly to trial.

“The accused … are all former guards at the concentration camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and we take the view that this job - regardless of what they can be individually accused of - makes them guilty of complicity in murder,” said chief prosecutor Kurt Schirm.

The agency’s decision to probe the former guards was prompted by the case of Ukraine-born John Demjanjuk, who died last year while appealing against a five-year jail sentence for complicity in the murder of more than 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Poland.

Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. mechanic, was the first Nazi war criminal to be convicted in Germany without evidence of a specific crime or victim but purely on the grounds he had served as a guard at a death camp. He died in March 2012 aged 91.

The Ludwigsburg agency said it would hand over its findings to prosecutors in 11 German states to decide whether to bring charges against the 30 survivors.

It said it now planned to re-examine the actions of all former employees of death camps and special killing squads (Einsatzgruppen) in a project it said would be “extremely time-consuming” and would include research in archives held in Russia, Belarus and Brazil.

The next six months would be taken up with re-examining the files on Nazis who served at Majdanek death camp in eastern Poland, the agency said.

On Monday, a 92-year-old man who served in the Waffen-SS, Adolf Hitler’s elite Nazi fighting force, went on trial in the western German town of Hagen on charges of having shot in the back and killed a Dutch resistance fighter in 1945.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.