Ailing Auschwitz Guard Suspect Granted Bail in Germany

Release of 94-year-old follows arrest, along with two others, to face last-chance trials for Holocaust murders.

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A second suspected Nazi-era concentration-camp guard, a 94-year-old man, has been freed on bail in Germany, prosecutors in Stuttgart said Wednesday.

The release comes two weeks after he was arrested along with two others to face last-chance trials for Holocaust murders.

The prosecutor's office said the suspect was freed on account of his age and failing health, but insisted that it believes there is still a compelling case against him. Last week, an 88-year-old man was also freed on bail, while a lawyer for the third man, who is 92, has filed a challenge to his detention.

The three are alleged to have served at Auschwitz, a complex of camps in Nazi-occupied Poland where 1.1 million people were killed. The names of the three accused have been withheld under German privacy guidelines.

Germany has begun a drive to prosecute any remaining Nazi-era guards under a new legal doctrine. This states that anyone who worked at extermination camps should be considered an accessory to murder, even in the absence of evidence of any personal acts of violence.

However, in a setback for the prosecution, judges last week threw out the case against a high-profile accused, Hans Lipschis. The 94-year-old, who was arrested last year, was released because he is suffering from dementia.

Prosecutors believe that up to 30 men who are still alive today worked as SS guards at Auschwitz, the largest of the so-called death camps. Last month, they ordered a search for war-era documents in a number of German states.

Many Nazi-era crimes have gone unpunished in Germany after a federal court ruled in 1969 that proof of individual guilt is required in order to prosecute.

That precedent changed in 2011, when a Munich court relied on a personnel record to convict a former Sobibor concentration camp guard, John Demjanjuk, of aiding and abetting the murder of more than 28,000 people. Demjanjuk later died in a nursing home.

Main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, in Poland, which was liberated by the Russians, in January 1945.Credit: AP

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