89-Year-Old Philadelphia Man Faces German Trial as Nazi Camp Guard
Germany is seeking extradition of an 89-year-old Pennsylvania man in connection with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald Nazi concentration camps, a U.S. judge said on Wednesday.
Johann Breyer was arrested by U.S. authorities on Tuesday at his home in Philadelphia on allegations that he served as a Nazi SS guard at the concentration camps. The retired tool-and-die maker, born in Czechoslovakia, is accused of joining the Waffen SS at age 17.
Breyer immigrated to the United States in 1952. He was the subject of deportation proceedings in the 1990s when his attorneys argued he was a natural U.S. citizen because his mother was born in Philadelphia. They also argued that Breyer had been coerced into joining the SS.
Germany has issued a warrant for his arrest, U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Rice said at Breyer’s court appearance in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Newly discovered evidence has strengthened the case against Breyer, the New York Times reported. War-era records show he was at Auschwitz earlier than he has acknowledged and that he also served as a guard in a notorious subcamp, known as Birkenau, used exclusively to kill prisoners, the newspaper said.
In court on Wednesday, Breyer’s lawyers argued that he was not healthy enough to be held in federal detention while his case is being decided.