Philadelphia man arrested on charges of Nazi war crimes at Auschwitz

By Elizabeth Learned,

A Philadelphia resident has been arrested on charges pertaining to Auschwitz murders during World War II.

USA Today reported the 89-year-old man had been a Nazi guard at the concentration camps and is now being detained. Johann “Hans” Breyer is a United States citizen and came to the states over 50 years ago.

He has been charged with being complicit in the murders of prisoners who were brought to the death camp between May and October of 1944.

Breyer did admit he was a perimeter guard at the Auschwitz I camp, but not the Auschwitz II camp, which is where about 1.5 million Jews lost their lives.

The Associated Press reported the charges came from the district court in Weiden, Germany and he has been charged with 158 counts.

Breyer’s attorney, Dennis Boyle, has argued Breyer is in poor health and reportedly said, “Mr. Breyer is not a threat to anyone. He’s not a flight risk” as prosecutors sought to not allow bail.

The U.S. Justice Department spent years trying to have Breyer deported and to also have his citizenship taken away. In 2003, a court ruled he was allowed to stay due to being a minor when he joined the SS, so he couldn’t be held responsible for the murders.

He told the AP in an interview two years ago, he was not part of the slaughter of the men, women and children at the death camp. He confessed to be aware of the killing, but claims not to have witnessed it.

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