UNITED STATES

Auschwitz guard Johann Breyer dies before facing trial in Germany

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 11:38pm

A former Nazi concentration camp guard died hours before a judge ordered his extradition from the US to Germany to face charges of aiding and abetting the deaths of 216,000 Jews.

Johann Breyer, 89, who served during the second world war as an armed guard at Buchenwald and Auschwitz and emigrated to Philadelphia in 1952, died on Tuesday night, said Jim Burke, of the United States marshals' service. Breyer had been held at a Philadelphia hospital.

An email notifying federal magistrate Timothy Rice of the death arrived on Wednesday after the judge had filed his order for Breyer's extradition to Germany, Rice's secretary said.

German authorities said Breyer was tied to the deaths of 216,000 Jews, a figure arrived at by estimating the survival rate of prisoners packed into 158 trains that arrived at Auschwitz from May to October 1944, according to documents.

Breyer served at Buchenwald before transferring in 1944 to Auschwitz where, he claimed, he served as a perimeter guard.

The death comes days after Breyer was released from a detention centre. He had suffered from dementia and other ailments, lawyers said.