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Germany Arrests Three Suspected Auschwitz Guards

Three men aged 88, 92 and 94 detained by German authorities on suspicion of being guards at Auschwitz.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/21/2014, 4:14 AM

Jewish delegation at Auschwitz
Jewish delegation at Auschwitz
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Three men aged 88, 92 and 94 have been detained by German authorities on suspicion of being guards at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, the BBC reported on Thursday.

The homes of a number of men were raided in three German states, months after prosecutors investigating Nazi-era war crimes announced they were recommending charges against 30 people, the report said.

All three live in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and are suspected of involvement in murders that took place between 1942 and 1945. They were taken to Hohenasperg prison hospital in Ludwigsburg, reports say.

Raids also took place in the states of Hessen and North Rhine-Westphalia, although none of the suspects was arrested, according to the BBC.

The decision to take action against alleged Nazi guards followed the conviction in May 2011 of John Demjanjuk.

A court decided that by being a worker at a concentration camp he was guilty of being an accessory to murder. This meant that courts did not have to prove active participation in killing to find a suspect guilty of murder.

Demjanjuk was convicted of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp during the Holocaust.

In the 1980s he stood trial in Israel on charges that he was “Ivan the Terrible,” a particularly brutal guard at the Treblinka death camp. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but the Supreme Court later overturned the charges on the grounds that there was evidence that a different man was Ivan the Terrible, and returned Demjanjuk to the states. The justices said they believed he had served as a Nazi guard, but could not be sure he was at Treblinka.

In 2002 his U.S. citizenship was revoked, allowing him to be brought to trial in Germany, where he was convicted of having volunteered for the Nazi SS after falling captive and of working at the death camp. Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released pending appeal and died in 2012 in a nursing home in southern Bavaria.

Three weeks ago, Croatian prosecutors said they had opened a war crimes investigation against 90-year-old Jakob Frank Denzinger, who is suspected of having been a guard in several Nazi concentration camps during World War II, including Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In December, Hans Lipschis, a 93-year old being tried for Nazi war crimes,was released by German courts which determined that he was “unfit to stand trial.”

An investigation was launched against Lipschis after evidence surfaced alleging that he was involved in the mass genocide of Jews in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.