Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Nazi death camp suspect charged

Nazi guards at Belzec death camp in occupied Poland in 1942 (AP)
Polish soldiers holding eternal flames stand in front of a wall during the inauguration at the vast new memorial for the victims of the Belzec Nazi death camp in Belzec, Poland (AP)

One of the world's most wanted Nazi suspects has been charged in Germany with the murder of 430,000 Jews at a concentration camp.

Former guard Samuel Kunz, 88, had been living undisturbed for decades at his home near Bonn when he received a letter saying he had been charged, prosecutor Christopher Goeke in Dortmund said.

Mr Kunz, who is third on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's list of most-wanted Nazi suspects, had long been ignored by the German justice system, partly due to a lack of past interest in going after relatively low-ranking camp guards.

But in the past 10 years a younger generation of German prosecutors has emerged interested in bringing all surviving Nazi suspects to justice.

The Wiesenthal Centre's most wanted is Sandor Kepiro, a former Hungarian gendarmerie officer accused of involvement in the deaths of 1,200 civilians in Serbia, while second on the list is Milivoj Asner, who served as police chief in Croatia during the war. He now lives in Austria, which has refused to extradite him to Croatia on medical grounds.

While Mr Kunz ranked fairly low in the Nazi hierarchy, he is among the top most wanted due to the large number of Jews he is accused of having been involved in killing - which the prosecutor's office in Dortmund puts at 430,000.

The highest-profile example of guards facing trial is the case against John Demjanjuk, the 90-year-old retired car worker being tried in Munich for accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.

Mr Kunz's case came to light because of Demjanjuk.

Authorities recently stumbled over it when they studied old documents from German post-war trials about the SS training camp Trawniki in connection with the trial of John Demjanjuk.

Mr Kunz's charges include participation in the murder of 430,000 Jews at the Belzec death camp in occupied Poland, where he allegedly served as a guard from January 1942 to July 1943, as well as murder over "personal excesses" in which he allegedly shot a total of 10 Jews in two other incidents.

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