An 89-year-old Philadelphia man Johnann ‘Hans’ Breyer was arrested on Nazi war crime charges on Tuesday night.
The arrest warrant issued by Germany charges Breyer, a retired toolmaker, with aiding and abetting in the deaths of 216,000 men, women, and children while working as a guard at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II. Attorney Dennis Boyle argued in court on Wednesday that Breyer is too frail to stand trial and be detained, however, prosecutors have said the detention center where he is being held is capable of taking care of him.
Germany opened an investigation into Breyer after the U.S. failed to strip him of his citizenship. They are now calling for his extradition so he can stand trial in Germany.
Breyer admitted that he was a guard at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland during World War II, however he has maintained that he was stationed outside of the camp and had no role in the slaughter of over 1 million people killed in the camp.
Efraim Zuroff is the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, and told NBC he believes Breyer should be sent back to Germany to stand trial. “Germany deserves credit for doing this — for extending and expanding their efforts and, in a sense, making a final attempt to maximize the prosecution of Holocaust perpetrators.”
According to Zuroff, the U.S. is anxious to get Breyer off their hands and will likely extradite him. “If a country asks for him and they have the basis for the request, the United States is anxious, of course, to be rid of all the Nazi perpetrators who immigrated there, it’s a case where hopefully there will be no obstacles.”