Germany prosecutors on Thursday charged Hans Lipschis, 93, as an accessory to
murder for his service with an SS guard unit at the Auschwitz death
Lipschis is to be charged in connection with more than 10,000
deaths at the camp.
While Lipschis has admitted to serving with the unit,
he said he served as a cook and was not complicit in the murder of the camp’s
In 1982, Lipschis was deported to Germany from the United States
after it was discovered that he had lied about his Nazi past.
deportation proceedings, the Justice Department alleged that as a corporal at
Auschwitz, Lipschis had “ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in
the persecution of persons... because of their race, religion, national
origin or political opinion.”
Arrested in May under the “strong
suspicion” he was involved in murder, Lipschis’s arrest was welcomed by the
Simon Wiesenthal Center, which had placed him fourth on its list of most-wanted
Nazi war criminals.
“Lipschis served from October 1941 until January 1945
in the most notorious of Nazi death camps, where approximately 1,300,000 inmates
were murdered, among them approximately 1,100,000 Jews,” according to the
“Lipschis’s arrest is a welcome first step in what we
hope will be a large number of successful legal measures taken by the German
judicial authorities against death camp personnel and those who served in the
Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), which together murdered more than three
million Jews during the Holocaust,” Dr. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter at the
Wiesenthal Center, said.
The center recently concluded Operation Last
Chance II, an advertising campaign aimed at convincing Germans to provide
information to enable prosecutors to charge surviving war criminals.
arrest was made possible by the 2011 conviction in Munich of Sobibor death camp
guard Ivan Demjanjuk, the first Nazi war criminal convicted in Germany without
evidence of a specific crime or a specific victim.
In 1969, a German
court ruled that former concentration camp guards could not be convicted based
solely on their service and that “proof of a specific crime against a specific
victim” was required for a conviction.
However, Zuroff told The Jerusalem
Post earlier this month, the Germans’ “legal reasoning had changed [with
On September 3, German justice officials called
for local prosecutors to bring charges against 30 former guards from the
Auschwitz- Birkenau death camp based on the newly loosened criteria for charging
former guards with war crimes.
Government prosecutor Kurt Schirm told
reporters that “the accused... are all former guards at the concentration camps
Auschwitz- Birkenau and we take the view that this job – regardless of what they
can be individually accused of – makes them guilty of complicity in
JTA contributed to this report.
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