Germany is seeking the extradition of an 87-year-old Philadelphia man who is accused of committing war crimes as an SS Guard at Auschwitz concentration camp, the Associated Press (AP) reported [AP report] Sunday. Retired Toolmaker Johann Breyer told the AP that he was a guard at the camp but was not involved in the killing of Jewish and other inmates. In August German prosecutors announced that they were contemplating charges [JURIST report] against Breyer. They alleged Breyer was involved in the killing of 344,000 Jews at Auschwitz in occupied Poland from April 1944 until some time before it was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945. The US Department of Justice previously tried to deport Breyer, claiming he lied about his work with the Nazis during WWII, but these efforts were halted in 2003 when it was revealed he joined the SS as a minor.
Information about Breyer's case apparently came to light during the investigation of convicted Nazi prison guard John Demjanjuk [JURIST news archive], who was charged with accessory murder under the same legal theory that would be employed in Breyer's. Retired Ohio autoworker Demjanjuk was convicted in German Court [JURIST report] in May 2011 as an accessory to over 28,000 murders and sentenced to five years in prison but was released to a nursing home due to his age and deteriorating health. He was deported to Germany [JURIST report] from the US in May 2009 after the US Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal of a 2005 deportation order [JURST reports] by a US immigration judge. Demjanjuk died [JURIST report] in the nursing home in March awaiting an appeal of his conviction.