An alleged former guard at the Auschwitz death camp was arrested in southern Germany yesterday. Hans Lipschis, 93, is suspected of having served in the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland for four years, and will be charged with being an accessory to mass murder.
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"We will try to demonstrate what exactly he did in Auschwitz," a Stuttgart prosecution spokeswoman said yesterday. A doctor who examined Lipschis declared him fit to remain in custody.
Last month, Lipschis' name was added to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most-wanted Nazis, prepared by Dr. Efraim Zuroff. Lipschis was born in Lithuania in 1919 and granted "ethnic German" status in 1943. He served in Auschwitz between 1941 and 1945. After the war he fled to the United States and lived in Chicago, but in 1984 he was deported by the United States to Germany, where he had been living undisturbed until recently.
A few weeks ago, he was tracked down by the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. In an interview he told the paper he had served in Auschwitz, but as a cook. When asked if he had seen the atrocities, Lipschis replied, "I didn't see them, but I heard about everything."
The paper, however, reported that Lipschis had actually served in the SS-Totenkopf Sturmbann (Death's Head Battalion), which was responsible for guarding the extermination camps.
Police investigators do not suspect that he was personally involved in committing murder, but are convinced that through his role as a guard he had aided and abetted it.
The German court that convicted Ukraine-born John Demjanjuk, a former guard at the Sobibor death camp in German-occupied Poland, established a precedent by ruling that any role at a death camp amounted to being an accessory to murder. Police have been investigating Lipschis since November. He is one of 50 elderly Germans under investigation by German officials for allegedly working at Auschwitz as a security guard.
"It is almost certain that he will be the first to be brought to court," stated German newspaper Die Welt.