Sixty-eight years after the end of World War II, fifty men who allegedly served as guards at the infamous Auschwitz Nazi death camp may face prison terms in Germany, local media reported.
The Zentrale Stelle, a federal law enforcement body investigating Nazi crimes, has demanded that the suspects be charged with accessory to murder, the newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reported late Friday.
The crackdown was enabled by the precedent case of John Demjanjuk, convicted over similar charges in Germany in 2011.
Zentrale Stelle’s investigation lacks direct witnesses, but the agency has maintained that available written records would suffice in court, as was the case with Demjanjuk, said the probe’s leader, Kurt Schrimm, according to RIA Novosti.
Demjanjuk, a native of Ukraine, was a guard at Sobibor concentration camp. He lived in the United States after the war, but was stripped of citizenship and deported to Germany, where he was convicted of accessory to murder of all 27,900 people who died at Sobibor, though his direct involvement in any of the deaths was never proven. He died last year before the ruling came into effect.
The 50 Auschwitz guards came from all over Germany, Schrimm said.
He did not specify their present whereabouts, but said some possibly immigrated to South America with the help of the Catholic Church.
The Zentrale Stelle, or the Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes, has tracked down more than 7,000 Nazi criminals since its establishment in 1958.