93-year-old former Auschwitz guard charged with being accessory to murder
Prosecution part of campaign to bring lower-level Nazis to justice before they die
Ninety-three-year-old Hans Lipschis, alleged to have been a guard at the infamous Auschwitz death camp has now been charged as an accessory to murder. The prosecution is part of a renewed drive to bring lower-level Nazi collaborators to justice before they die.
Hans Lipschis is alleged to have worked as a guard at Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland from 1941 to 1943, during which 12 prisoner convoys arrived at the death camp.
Officially unnamed by the prosecution service in the city of Stuttgart, Lipschis was arrested by German police in May, He ranks fourth on the Nazi-hunting group Simon Wiesenthal's list of most wanted Nazi criminals.
The 'Arbeit Mact Frei' sign hangs above Auschwitz concentration camp, where prosecutors allege Lipschis worked as a guard from 1941 to 1943, a period in which 12 prisoner convoys arrived at the death camp.
His arrest was made possible by the 2011 conviction in Munich of Ivan Demjanjuk, who was found to have been an accessory to the murder of almost 28,000 Jews in Sobibor while serving as a guard. Demjanuk became the first ex-Nazi convicted in Germany without evidence of a specific crime or a specific victim.
Lipschis told newspaper reporters this year that he had been a cook at Auschwitz and had later left the camp to fight on the Eastern Front, although he could not remember which unit he had been in.
The main guard house at Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland, where Lipschis claimed he worked as a cook.
Kurt Schrimm, the head of the German agency that probes Nazi war crimes, says that the accused was on a list of 30 former Auschwitz guards who facilitated mass murder.
"The investigation was short but intensive. We looked for documents that showed that (the accused) was on duty on particular days when the transports came in," Claudia Krauth, state prosecutor for the Stuttgart court says. "If we have proof that someone has committed a crime, we are required to prosecute that person."
A haunting image of children wearing concentration camp uniforms, taken during the liberation of Auschwitz, where some 1.5 million people perished between 1940 and 1945.
Prosecutors maintain that Lipschis had lived in the United States for 26 years after the war, but had had his U.S. citizenship revoked after his involvement with the Nazis came to light. He returned to Germany in 1982.
Some 1.5 million people perished at Auschwitz, mostly Jews but also gypsies, Poles and others, between 1940 and 1945.
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