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
Accused Nazi About to Be Extradited Dies in US
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)

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. (More Johann Breyer stories.)

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