Nearly 70 years after the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz death camp, Germany’s Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes continues its efforts to find and prosecute those who oversaw the deaths of millions of Jews, gays, Roma, Poles, political dissidents, and anyone else the Hitler regime considered immoral, defective or troublesome. The latest to be arrested is an 93 year-old former medic. In accordance with German privacy laws, his name has not been released to the public.
The 93-year-old, who was arrested at his home near Neubrandenburg, north of Berlin, underwent a medical checkup before he faced a judge and was then taken into pre-trial detention.
The former SS member allegedly assisted in the mass murder of prisoners who arrived on eight transports from Germany, Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Slovenia in September 1944.
Of the arrivals, 1,721 were killed in gas chambers after they were deemed unfit for forced labour at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland, prosecutors said.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, praised German authorities for “not relenting in the pursuit of those who murdered, or aided in murdering, thousands of people” during the second world war.
“The prosecution of those who participated in terrible crimes sends a clear message that justice must be done, no matter how late the hour,” he said.
The arrest followed a recommendation from the German office investigating Nazi war crimes to bring charges. It was the latest in a series of arrests since Germany launched a renewed drive to bring to justice the last surviving perpetrators of the Holocaust.
For more than 60 years German courts prosecuted Nazi war criminals only if evidence showed they had personally committed atrocities. But in 2011 a Munich court sentenced John Demjanjuk to five years in prison for complicity in the extermination of Jews at the Sobibor camp, establishing that all former camp guards could be tried.