Germany Targets Philly Man in Nazi Probe

Johann 'Hans' Breyer is accused of aiding in genocide

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 23, 2012 3:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – German prosecutors have thrown an elderly Philadelphia man back in the spotlight for allegedly aiding in the genocide of Jews at Auschwitz, the AP reports. The new investigation into 87-year-old Johann "Hans" Breyer, a retired toolmaker, comes nearly a decade after the Justice Department gave up trying to deport him to Germany. Breyer admits to working as a guard at the German death camp, but says he was only stationed outside, and claims he deserted the army in August 1944.

But that claim—which helped him in his 2003 deportation case—is contradicted by documents obtained by the AP. An old US military file lists him as a member of an Auschwitz battalion in late 1944, well after he claimed to have deserted. But Breyer, now recovering from three "mini-strokes," says he will resist any attempt to tear him away from his family. "I'm an American citizen, just as if I had been born here," he says. "They can't deport me."

In this Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 photo, the home of Johann Hans Breyer, center, is seen in Philadelphia.
In this Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 photo, the home of Johann "Hans" Breyer, center, is seen in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
This US Army intelligence card on Johann Hans Breyer indicates that he served in Auschwitz as of Dec. 29, 1944, four months after he said he deserted.
This US Army intelligence card on Johann "Hans" Breyer indicates that he served in Auschwitz as of Dec. 29, 1944, four months after he said he deserted.   (AP Photo/National Archives)
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