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Philadelphia man: ‘I didn’t kill’ anyone at Auschwitz
The dossier is now with prosecutors in the town of Weiden, near where Mr. Breyer last lived in Germany. The prosecutors are reviewing whether there is enough evidence to charge him with accessory to the killing of least 344,000 Jews as Mr. Schrimm’s office has recommended, and have him extradited from the U.S.
For decades after the war, German prosecutors were only able to convict former Nazi guards if they could find evidence of a specific crime.
But with the case of former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, the legal thinking changed: Prosecutors were able to argue successfully that evidence of service as a death camp guard alone was enough to convict a suspect of accessory to murder.
Demjanjuk always denied being a guard anywhere. He died in March while appealing his conviction on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder.
Mr. Breyer, however, acknowledges that he served with SS Totenkopf guard units — although not the one that served at Birkenau — and was stationed both at Buchenwald, a concentration camp located in Germany, and Auschwitz.
“I didn’t kill anybody, I didn’t rape anybody — and I don’t even have a traffic ticket here,” he told the AP in an interview at his home in northeastern Philadelphia in September. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
He said he was aware of what was going on inside the death camp, but did not witness it himself.
“We could only see the outside, the gates,” he said.
The interview was the only one Mr. Breyer has given to the media.
Documents and testimony
Mr. Breyer was born in 1925 in what was then Czechoslovakia to an ethnic German father and an American mother, Katharina, who was born in Philadelphia.
Slovakia became a separate state in 1939 under the influence of Nazi Germany. In 1942, the Waffen SS embarked on a drive to recruit ethnic Germans there. Mr. Breyer joined at age 17 and was called up in 1943.
In testimony in 2002, he told the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania that he had been sent to Auschwitz from Buchenwald in May 1944, then was given leave in August and returned home. He testified that he stayed in hiding in and around his home until the Soviet army closed in.
According to Mr. Breyer, the town’s mayor provided him a letter asking for authorities to excuse his desertion because he had been needed on the family farm. Mr. Breyer testified that the letter worked with Nazi authorities, and that he was able to eventually rejoin his unit fighting outside Berlin in the final weeks of the war.
The documents, however, call his testimony into question, suggesting he was at Auschwitz through the rest of 1944 and into 1945, which would have meant he was there during the time some 426,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz, 320,000 of whom went directly into the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
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