Nearly 70 years after the Nuremberg Trials exposed to the world the true hell and horror of Hitler’s holocaust, a former Auschwitz camp guard has been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children,
Retired Philadelphia toolmaker Johann ‘Hans’ Breyer has, for the last 69 years, enjoyed the sort of life which the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Nazi’s other death camps were cruelly denied, but in a case which has been years in the making, it appears the past has finally caught up with the former Auschwitz Guard.
In 2012, 89-year-old Breyer confessed to the investigating authorities that he had served in the rank’s of Heinrich Himmler’s hated and feared Waffen SS during World War II and was stationed as a guard at Auschwitz in occupied-Poland.
Yet, Breyer denies he had any active involvement in the wholesale slaughter of 1.5 million Jews and others that routinely took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Breyer insists he was stationed outside of the death camp section of Auschwitz and was never a participant in the mass exterminations that took place there.
In a 2012 interview with Associated Press, the former Auschwitz Guard, who served with an SS Totenkopf (Death’s Head) battalion, admitted he was aware of what was going on inside Auschwitz’s death camp, but claimed he never witnessed it himself.
“I didn’t kill anybody, I didn’t rape anybody, and I don’t even have a traffic ticket here,’ he said. ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Breyer, who emigrated to America in 1952, was arrested on Tuesday by U.S. authorities and appeared in federal court on Wednesday charged with 158 counts of aiding and abetting the deaths of 216,000 Jews while serving as a guard at Auschwitz.
Each one of the 150 counts of complicity in the commission of murder represents a trainload of Nazi prisoners from Hungary, Germany and Czechoslovakia killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau between May 1944 and October 1944.
Breyer, who walks with a cane, was arrested outside his home in northeast Philadelphia. The law enforcement officer responsible testified in court that the former Auschwitz guard was fully coherent and understood the reasons he was being arrested.
During Breyer’s court appearance, it was reported that the former Auschwitz guard, who faces possible extradition to Germany to answer the charges leveled against him, appeared frail, somewhat confused, and was dressed in an olive green prison jumpsuit.
Throughout the long-hearing in Philadelphia, the former Auschwitz guard reportedly waved to his wife, Shirley, and his two grandsons who were also in attendance.
Breyer, who is currently being held without bail, is said by his legal representative to have mild dementia and heart issues and has suffered strokes in the past.
The former Auschwitz guard’s extradition hearing has been set for August 21.
In 2012, Breyer said he would fight any attempts at deportation and being taken from his wife and family.
The former Auschwitz guard stressed:
“I’m an American citizen, just as if I had been born here. They can’t deport me.”
Despite Mr. Breyer’s claims on the matter, the case for deportation may hinge on whether or not Breyer disclosed his Nazi past when he applied for citizenship. There is an established precedent in American law to revoke the citizenship of a naturalized citizen who either lied to conceal or failed to disclose their involvement with the Nazis on their naturalization application.