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Germany Investigating 20 Former Guards at Majdanek

Around 20 former guards at Majdanek could face charges in Germany, as it continues its crackdown on Nazi war criminals.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/22/2014, 5:42 AM

Jewish visitors at Majdanek (illustration)
Jewish visitors at Majdanek (illustration)
Flash 90

Around 20 former guards at the Majdanek death camp could face charges in Germany, following a widespread probe of the Nazi SS men and women who served there during World War II, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Federal prosecutor Kurt Schrimm, who heads Germany’s special Nazi war crimes office, said he expects to turn the cases over to state investigators within two weeks for them to pursue accessory to murder charges.

Lead investigator Thomas Will told AP that about 30 suspects were identified and located, but about ten had already died. The remaining 20 men and women all live in Germany, he said, but refused to elaborate further.

Germany recently began a crackdown on former Nazi war criminals and in March made several arrests of suspected criminals.

Some 220 others are still being investigated for possible charges but have not been located.

The series of arrests comes following the 2011 Munich trial of John Demjanjuk, a Nazi war criminal charged of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp and sentenced to five years. The former Nazi died in 2012.

The trial changed limitations by which Germany only prosecuted Nazi war criminals if witness testimony showed they personally committed atrocities. Thanks to the Demjanjuk ruling, all former camp guards can be tried for their part in the Nazi genocidal mass murder.

Schrimm said he expects more suspects will be announced “in the coming months.”

Some of the arrests have, unfortunately, come too late. In February, for example, a German court ruled that Hans Lipschis, a 94-year-old man deported from the United States for lying about his Nazi past is unfit for trial on allegations that he was an accessory to thousands of murders as an SS guard at Auschwitz.

The Ellwangen state court said Lipschis is suffering from "worsening dementia" and couldn't be tried.