Accused Nazi About to Be Extradited Dies in US
Philadelphia's Johann Breyer, 89, was a guard at Auschwitz
By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2014 2:01 PM CDT
Writing over the main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz I in Poland in 1945 reads: "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes free" or "work liberates".   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – An 89-year-old Philly man suspected of Nazi war crimes died last night in a local hospital, the AP reports—the same day a judge issued an order to have him extradited to Germany. Former toolmaker Johann Breyer had been arrested in June, and German prosecutors wanted to try him for his role in the murder of more than 200,000 Jews at Auschwitz. The extradition order had been awaiting a final stamp of approval from the US government.

Breyer was a US citizen (his mother was born here), and he had repeatedly tried to deflect blame for the death-camp killings, saying that he was forced to be a guard as a teen and that he wasn’t in the section of Auschwitz that murdered prisoners, reports Sky News. The judge who issued the extradition order wasn't buying it, declaring that “no statute of limitations offers a safe haven for murder." Breyer had mild dementia, heart problems, and a past history of strokes.

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Bill Miller
Jul 24, 2014 2:43 PM CDT
This Nazi war criminal stuff is ridiculous. If he was a guard, so what? It was war time and he was doing as ordered. His superiors are the only ones that deserve prosecution. Then the crew of the Enola Gay should be prosecuted for dropping the bomb on innocent civilians.
Jul 24, 2014 2:20 PM CDT
The guy was a teenager who was forced to be a guard. What part of that didn't they understand. 70 years later, is the wrong time to bring it up. Most teenagers are going to do what they're told to do, when adults with guns are telling them what to do.
Jul 24, 2014 1:46 PM CDT
Was surprised they went after him at that age, at some point you need to just leave what has passed in the past. The last Pope wore a German Army Uniform until the Allies came marching into town and he got a free pass on it. Not entirely sure I see the difference, both chose to just go along rather than to confront evil directly. If Benedict gets a pass on it, that should be the end of this crap....