Philadelphia man may be extradited to Germany for Nazi war crimes

Entrance to the Auschwitz Nazi prison camp. Credit: Wiki Commons.
Entrance to the Auschwitz Nazi prison camp. Credit: Wiki Commons.

A Northeast Philadelphia man who served as a guard of a Nazi prison camp may be extradited to Germany and charged with 158 counts of murder.

Johann “Hans” Breyer, 89, who was born in Germany but has called the city home for close to 40 years, was arrested Tuesday and entered federal court on Wednesday morning for an extradition hearing. Federal officials decided to h0ld Breyer without bail until federal judges contemplate his fate, according to the Inquirer.

According to court documents, Breyer has been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department since the early 1990s after investigations showed he served as a prison guard at the Auschwitz, Poland Nazi prison camp in the mid-1940s when he was 17. Court documents place Breyer at the camps from December 1943 through January 1945.

He retained his US citizenship, which derived from his mother who was born in Manayunk.

Breye’s name surfaced again in 2012 after German officials began prosecuting former Nazis for war crimes exhibited during the World War II. Breyer claims he was mainly used as a laborer and did not murder any Jewish people. The warrant was issued for Breyer’s arrest in June 17, 2013.

According to court documents,”Breyer is charged with complicity in the commission of murder of 158 trainloads of European Jewish deportees.”

About 216,000 Jewish men, women and children from Hungary, Germany and Czechoslovakia were murdered in Auschwitz gas chambers between May 1944 and October 1944, according to the court documents.

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