Germany seeks to prosecute former Nazi camp guard living in U.S.
(CNN) — Authorities in Germany are investigating whether they can prosecute a former Nazi camp guard who has been living in the United States for 60 years, they said Monday.
Prosecutors are probing the case of Johann Breyer, who admits having been a guard at the notorious Auschwitz camp, where more than 1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered during World War II.
Breyer, 87, says he was only a perimeter guard and did not persecute anyone, according to legal papers related to his battle to keep his American citizenship.
"He was a trained, paid, uniformed armed Nazi guard who patrolled the perimeters of two such camps with orders to shoot those who tried to escape," a court ruled in 1994.
Breyer ultimately won his fight to remain in the United States when a court ruled in 2003 that he was not responsible for his decision to join a Nazi unit because he was only 17 years old at the time.
But German authorities are now investigating evidence against him, they said Monday.
They expect to have preliminary results in October, said Gert Schaefer, a spokesman for the chief public prosecutor in the Bavarian town of Weiden.
Breyer emigrated to the United States in 1952 and claimed citizenship as a displaced person.
In the 1990s, the government fought to strip him of his citizenship, arguing that Nazis were not eligible.
Breyer did not dispute being an SS Totenkopf (Death's Head) guard, responsible for guarding Nazi concentration camps, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit, which heard one stage of his legal battle in 1994.
Therefore, "Breyer assisted in persecution," the court ruled.
His case has echoes of that of John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-born Ohio man who spent more than two decades fighting charges that he was a Nazi war criminal before he died this year.
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