German police on Thursday arrested nine suspected Nazi SS guards at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff praised the arrests.
“We congratulate the Zentrale Stelle [the German government’s arm for investigating war crimes] and the German prosecutors involved and urge that these efforts be fully expedited so that as many as possible Holocaust perpetrators can be brought to justice,” said Zuroff, who is the director of the center’s Jerusalem office.
The police raided the apartments of the elderly suspects in the German states of Baden-Wurttemberg, Hesse and North Rhein-Westphalia.
Zuroff urged that the recommendation announced last September by the Zentrale Stelle to prosecute 30 guards who served in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp be expedited while they are still alive.
The Nazis murdered 1.5 million people at Auschwitz, the overwhelming majority of whom were Jews.
Zuroff said, “It is important to remember in these cases that the passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers and old age should not protect those who helped run the largest death camp in human history.”
He continued, “Each and every victim of the Nazis deserves that an effort be made to hold accountable those who victimized them and these are the last people on earth who deserve any sympathy since they had no sympathy whatsoever for their innocent victims, some of whom were older than they are today.”
According to German media reports, in Baden-Wurttemberg the investigation covers six men between the ages of 88 and 94.
In Hess, the police searched the apartment of an 89-year-old and a 92-year-old in North Rhein- Westphalia. The police secured written documentation and photographs about the men’s alleged work as guards at Auschwitz.
In North Rhein-Westphalia, the police searched the apartment of a 92-year-old man who confessed to having worked as a member of the SS at Auschwitz.
He denied involvement in the killing of people.