- Special Features
Blogs & Columns
- Fun & Games
An 89-year-old Philadelphia man accused of being a guard at two Nazi concentration camps during World War II was arrested on Tuesday.
Johann Breyer, from Czechoslovakia, allegedly joined the Waffen SS when he was 17 and was posted both at Buchenwald and Auschwitz, The New York Times reports.
After the war ended, Breyer immigrated to the United States in 1952, managing to temporarily escape his past for little less than a century before authorities finally caught up with him. He appeared in federal court on Wednesday as Germany looks to extradite him.
According to USA Today, U.S. officials have been trying to send him to Germany to face a trial for the better part of 20 years, but were unable to when a court ruled in 2003 that since he was only 17 at the time, he isn't legally culpable for what went on.
The Justice Department has since switched legal routes in order to get the octogenarian to stand trial.
He has been charged with 158 counts of aiding and abetting Nazi atrocities while working as a guard and being involved in the slaughter of "hundreds of thousands" of Jewish prisoners. He is accused of working in "Auschwitz 2," where prisoners were taken to the gas chambers.
Though Breyer is said to be suffering from dementia now, he previously has denied working in that section of the camp, claiming he only worked in "Auschwitz 1," where prisoners were treated as slave labor.
In a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, he said, "I didn't kill anybody. I didn't rape anybody. I didn't do anything wrong." But he has admitted he knew people were killed in the camp.