BERLIN (AP) — A 95-year-old former Nazi focus camp guard deported from Tennessee has agreed to be questioned by German prosecutors as they re-examine whether or not there may be sufficient proof in opposition to him to deliver fees, authorities stated Monday.
Friedrich Karl Berger arrived Saturday in Frankfurt on a particular flight from the U.S. after being ordered deported to his native Germany by a court docket in Memphis final 12 months.
He was met by Hesse state police detectives on the airport and advised them he can be keen to be questioned by investigators with a lawyer current, stated Bernd Kolkmeier, spokesman for the Celle prosecutor’s workplace, which is dealing with the case.
Organizing counsel and guaranteeing they’re in control on the details will take time, nevertheless, so the earliest such an interview would happen can be subsequent month, Kolkmeier stated.
A U.S. immigration decide ordered Berger deported a 12 months in the past after discovering that his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” constituted help in Nazi-sponsored persecution.
The court docket discovered that Berger, who had been living within the U.S. since 1959, had served at a camp in Meppen, Germany, near the border with the Netherlands, which was a subcamp of the bigger Neuengamme focus camp near Hamburg.
It stated through the winter of 1945, prisoners in Meppen had been held in “atrocious” circumstances and had been exploited for out of doors compelled labor, working “to the point of exhaustion and death.”
Berger admitted to American investigators that he served in Meppen as a guard for a number of weeks near the tip of the struggle however stated he didn’t observe any abuse or killings. The Memphis court docket discovered, nevertheless, that Berger had helped guard prisoners throughout a compelled evacuation that took nearly two weeks and claimed the lives of 70 folks.
Celle prosecutors shelved their preliminary investigation of him in December, nevertheless, saying they’d been unable to refute his account. They’re now having one other look, with him again on German soil, Kolkmeier stated.
“Nothing has changed except that he is now in Germany and we can talk with him,” Kolkmeier stated. “We can personally question him, which is naturally different than reading a transcript.”
Kolkmeier wouldn’t say whether or not Berger nonetheless had household in Germany nor the place he was residing.
Berger, who was born in 1925 within the tiny northern city of Bargen, was serving within the German Navy when he was assigned to protect prisoners in Meppen in 1945, in keeping with the Neuengamme Memorial’s web site.
He served between Jan. 28, 1945 and April 4, 1945, as an auxiliary hooked up to the SS command of the camp, in keeping with Celle prosecutors.
Berger is being investigated underneath a precedent established in 2011 with the conviction of former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk as an adjunct to homicide on allegations that he served as a guard on the Sobibor demise camp in German-occupied Poland. Demjanjuk, who denied the allegations, died earlier than his enchantment could possibly be heard.
German courts beforehand required prosecutors to justify fees by presenting proof of a former guard’s participation in a selected killing, typically a near-impossible job.
However, prosecutors efficiently argued throughout Demjanjuk’s trial in Munich that serving to a camp operate by serving as a guard was sufficient to convict somebody of accent to murders dedicated there.
A federal court docket subsequently upheld the 2015 conviction of former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening on the identical reasoning.
Since the Demjanjuk conviction there have been a gradual stream of recent prosecutions and trials in Germany.
Earlier this month prosecutors charged a 100-year-old man on 3,518 counts of accent to homicide on allegations he served as a guard on the Sachsenhausen focus camp outdoors Berlin, and a 95-year-old girl on 10,000 counts of accent to homicide on allegations she served because the secretary to the previous SS commandant of the Stutthof camp.