Auschwitz Guard Arrest: Will 93-Year-Old War Criminal Hans Lipschis Be Charged?

By Staff Reporter on May 6, 2013 4:26 PM EDT

Auschwitz
The entrance of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz concentration camp. 93-year-old Hans Lipschis was a death camp guard and is in custody for war crimes on Monday. (Photo: Creative Commons)

An Auschwitz guard was arrested by German authorities on Monday. According to Stuttgart prosecutors, 93-year-old Hans Lipschis is charged with an accessory to murder for his time as a death camp guard at Auschwitz.

Prosecutor Claudia Krauth announced that Hans Lipschis was taken into custody after compelling evidence was uncovered of his Nazi past from 1941 to 1945. Lipschis has admitted that he was an SS guard at Auschwitz. However, despite his association with the death camp, Lipschis claimed he did not participate in war crimes and only served as the cook at the camp.

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Hans Lipschis first immigrated to Chicago in the 1950s. In 1983, Lipschis was deported from the U.S. when investigators discovered that he lied about his Nazi past.

Prosecutor Claudia Krauth's office request for an arrest warrant was signed by the judge when she finally gathered enough evidence to hold him before he is charged. If Krauth were to bring about formal charges, the process would have taken another two months.

A critical arrest, Hans Lipschis is regarded as one of its most wanted war criminals by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

"This is a very positive step, we welcome the arrest," said Simon Wiesenthal Center chief Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff in a telephone interview from Israel. "I hope this will only be the first of many arrests, trials and convictions of death camp guards."

Beyond Lipschis, 50 other war suspects in the same category are being investigated.

As there is no detailed evidence that links Hans Lipschis to a specific war crime, it would have been impossible to charge him in Germany under old laws. However, modifications to the rule can charge a person that has served in a death camp for accessory to murder as a death camp's sole purpose was to kill its prisoners.

In a race against time, authorities aim to convict Hans Lipschis as soon as possible, as a suspect will be declared innocent if he dies before conviction. Doctors deemed Lipschis to be in good health as he is contained in prison while awaiting formal charges.

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