A Philadelphia man accused of being an SS guard at Auschwitz in World War II has died, just as he was on the verge of being extradited on charges of “aiding and abetting murder in Germany.”
AP reports: “Johann Breyer died Tuesday night at a Philadelphia hospital, attorney Dennis Boyle said Wednesday, the same day that U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice approved the extradition request.”
U.S. marshals arrested him in June outside his home in northeast Philadelphia. He was facing charges of aiding in the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp.
Breyer claimed he was unaware of the massive slaughter at Auschwitz and then that he did not participate in it.
The New York Times notes that Nazi-hunting prosecutors are running out of time: World War II, after all, ended almost 70 years ago.
His death leaves just one pending Nazi case in America: the deportation of Jakiw Palij, 91, a former Nazi camp guard now living in Queens. Mr. Palij was stripped of his United States citizenship in 2003, but he has remained in Queens awaiting deportation for 11 years because no other country would accept him.
His trial as a Holocaust collaborator likely would have been one of the last of its kind. Breyer had been fighting the threat of deportation for decades. His death reflects the fact that there are fewer and fewer surviving Holocaust suspects every year. Just three weeks ago, another suspected war criminal living in the U.S., John Kalymon, died at the age of 93 before he could be extradited to Europe to face trial.
Nazi hunters call it “biological amnesty,” in which Holocaust suspects do not live long enough to face conviction.
Breyer had been in poor health since his arrest in June.