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Philly Man, 89, Arrested for Nazi-era Crimes

June 18, 2014 By:
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The entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

An 89-year-old Philadelphia man, Johann Breyer, was arrested for abetting murder during his time as a Nazi guard at Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

Breyer, a retired toolmaker originally from Czechoslovakia who is also known by the first name John, appeared in court Wednesday, a day after his arrest. He is the oldest person in the United States to be accused of World War II-era Nazi crimes, according to The New York Times.

Federal officials arrested Breyer at the request of Germany, which issued a warrant for his arrest for 158 counts of complicity in murder at Auschwitz II-Birkenau and requested his extradition; each count represents a trainload of Jews who were taken to be killed at the camp.

Breyer is accused of having served in the Waffen SS Death’s Head Guard Battalion from July 1943 to January 1945, where he worked as a concentration camp guard. All the guards were required to take an oath to implement the camp’s extermination protocols, making Breyer complicit in the murder of Jewish inmates.

The warrant for Breyer’s arrest from a German court in Bavaria was based on historical records, eyewitness statements, expert analysis and previous statements made by Breyer, according to the criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Breyer immigrated to the United States in 1952.

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