An accused Nazi war criminal has been released from custody after his arrest warrant was lifted due to his dementia.
But the court could still order a trial to take place.
Hans Lipschis, 94, from Aalen, had been held in the Hohenasperg prison hospital near Stuttgard since last May on charges of complicity in hundreds of murders as an alleged former SS guard at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.
The arrest warrant against Lipschis was cancelled Friday due to a psychiatrist’s determination that he is suffering from the early stages of dementia and therefore might not sufficiently understand and respond to the charges against him, according to reports. The court must now decide if a trial should take place, reportedly depending on Lipschis’ state of health.
At the time of his arrest, Lipschis was called one of the ten most-wanted Nazis in a report by Zeit Online newspaper.
A native of Lithuania, he was allegedly a guard at Auschwitz from the autumn of 1941 until the Nazis abandoned the camp in January 1945. Lipschis reportedly belonged to the Totenkopf-Sturmbann, or Death’s Head Battalion, that guarded the camp; he later became a cook for SS troops at the camp. In April, Lipschis told the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag that he was in Auschwitz “as a cook, the whole time.”
He reportedly moved to Chicago in 1956 but was stripped of his American citizenship and deported from the United States in 1982 after U.S. immigration authorities determined he had lied about his Nazi past in order to gain entry into the country.
His arrest in Germany last spring was greeted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s top Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff as a positive step. It followed the release of information to German courts on about 50 former Auschwitz guards, a list compiled by Germany’s Central Office for Clarification of Nazi Crimes, with the aim of assisting in possible war crimes trials. All the suspects are around 90 years old.