Germany charges alleged Auschwitz guard Hans Lipschis

Man, 93 who claims he was a cook, charged with accessory to murder of prisoners at death camp during Holocaust.

Train to Auschwitz 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Train to Auschwitz 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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 camp.
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 inmates.
In 1982, Lipschis was deported to Germany from the United States after it was discovered that he had lied about his Nazi past.
During 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 center’s website.
“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.
The 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 Demjanjuk] apparently.”
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 murder.”
JTA contributed to this report.