89-year-old Nazi living in America and accused of helping kill 200,000 Jews in Auschwitz

89-year-old Nazi living in America and accused of helping kill 200,000 Jews in Auschwitz, facing extradition to Germany

Johann Breyer, an 89-year-old Philadelphia man faces possible extradition to Germany on charges he aided in the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp.

Johann “Hans” Breyer, a retired tool-and-die maker, is being held without bail on his suspected service as an SS guard at Auschwitz during World War II.

Decade after a court ruling granted him, the district court in Weiden, Germany, issued a warrant charging him with 158 counts of complicity in the commission of murder!

Each count represents a trainload of Nazi prisoners from Hungary, Germany and Czechoslovakia who were killed between May 1944 and October 1944, according to US prosecutors.

Breyer, wearing a prison-issued jumpsuit, appeared frail and carried a cane as he was helped to his seat. He has mild dementia and heart issues and has previously suffered strokes, as his attorney claimed.

He also argued in a federal court in Philadelphia that Breyer is too infirm to be detained pending his extradition hearing on 21 August.

“Mr. Breyer is not a threat to anyone,” said Boyle. “He’s not a flight risk.”

Despite that, Magistrate Judge Timothy Rice ruled the detention center was medically equipped to care for Breyer.

Breyer has been under investigation for years by prosecutors in the Bavarian town of Weiden, near where he last lived in Germany. He has resided in the US since 1952.

Breyer has admitted he was a guard at Auschwitz in occupied Poland, but he told The Associated Press that he was stationed outside of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp part of the complex. He denied having anything to do with the slaughter of about 1.5 million Jews and others behind the gates.

“I didn’t kill anybody, I didn’t rape anybody – and I don’t even have a traffic ticket here,” he claimed in an interview two years ago. “I didn’t do anything wrong.” He claims he was ignorant of the executions at Auschwitz, where more than one million Jews were killed. “Not the slightest idea, never, never, ever, all I know is from the television. What was happening at the camps, it never came up at that time.”

Prosecutors say that doesn’t matter. His mere presence at Auschwitz is enough to merit extradition. “He is charged with aiding and abetting those deaths,” says the assistant US Attorney “Proof doesn’t require him to have personally pulled any levers. His guarding made it possible for those killings to happen.”

Thomas Walther, a former federal prosecutor with the special office that investigates Nazi war crimes in Germany, now represents family members of some of Breyer’s alleged victims as co-plaintiffs in the case. He called for a speedy extradition.

“The German court has to find late justice for the crimes of Breyer and for the victims and their sons and daughters as co-plaintiffs,” Walther wrote.

“It is late, but not too late.”

The US government tried to revoke Breyer’s citizenship in 1992 after discovering his wartime background.

His American citizenship stems from the fact his mother was born in the US; she later moved to Europe, where Breyer was born.

But a 2003 federal decision allowed him to stay on claims of US citizenship derived from his mother’s origins. It also ruled that Breyer had joined the SS as a minor and could therefore not be held legally responsible for participation in it.

Breyer was recently arrested, one year after a German court charged him and asked for his extradition. If successful, Breyer, one of the last living members of the SS “Death’s Head” Nazi battalion, will be the oldest person ever extradited from the United States to face allegations of Nazi crimes.