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92-Year-Old Nazi Guard Denied Bail in Philadelphia

A former Nazi concentration camp guard awaiting extradition to Germany has been denied bail by a U.S. judge in Philadelphia.

Lawyers for Johann Breyer, 89, had sought his release before an Aug. 21 extradition hearing, arguing in court papers he suffered from dementia and other ailments, and continued confinement could speed his deterioration and make it difficult to assist in his defense in Germany.

But federal prosecutors opposed that request, saying Breyer, who was arrested on June 18 and is being held in a ward for elderly and infirm detainees at the Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center, is regularly checked on by jail staff and has access to regular medical care.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Rice on Wednesday denied bail in a one-page memo because Breyer had failed to show special circumstances required of detainees facing extradition.

German authorities are charging him with aiding and abetting the deaths of 216,000 Jews, a figure arrived at by estimating the survival rate of prisoners packed into 158 trains that arrived at Auschwitz between May and October 1944, according to documents.

Breyer served as an armed guard at Buchenwald before transferring in 1944 to Auschwitz where, according to court documents, he has said he served as a perimeter guard.

The retired tool-and-die maker, born in Czechoslovakia, joined the Waffen SS at age 17. He has argued that he was coerced into joining and was not involved in deaths at the camps. He emigrated to Philadelphia in 1952.

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