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US Accuses Man of Complicity in Nazi War Crimes

  • VOA News

FILE- Home of suspected former Nazi SS guard Johann "Hans" Breyer, center, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sept. 19, 2012.
U.S. authorities have arrested an 89-year-old man and accused him of being a guard at Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Johann Breyer, a retired toolmaker born in Czechoslovakia, was apprehended Tuesday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and held in jail after an initial court appearance Wednesday.

Germany is seeking to extradite Breyer to face charges that he was complicit in the 1944 killings of 158 trainloads of European Jews at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Officials say he was a guard at the Birkenau section of the camp where Jews were killed in gas chambers.

Breyer immigrated to the United States in 1952. His arrest reopens a case that has been dormant for years.

The U.S. Justice Department first accused him of Nazi ties in 1992. But he was allowed to stay in the U.S. after a legal fight based on his claim that he is an American citizen because his mother was born in the United States.

Officials say Breyer joined the Waffen SS at age 17 and also worked as a guard at the Buchenwald concentration camp. He has acknowledged being at Auschwitz for a period of time, but said his service there was "involuntary."

Some information for this report comes from Reuters.