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31 Mar, 2021 15:02

Germany drops probe against ex-Nazi guard deported from US, after he refuses to be questioned

Germany drops probe against ex-Nazi guard deported from US, after he refuses to be questioned

The case against a former Nazi concentration camp guard, recently deported from the US to face charges in Germany, has been closed due to lack of evidence, after the 95-year-old declined to be questioned, prosecutors have said.

Friedrich Karl Berger landed in Germany in late February after a US immigration judge ordered his deportation, over his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” by the Nazis during World War II.

This prompted prosecutors in the northern German town of Celle to reopen the previously halted investigation into Berger’s complicity in murders.

The former camp guard initially told police that, in principle, he was willing to be questioned about his past deeds in the presence of a lawyer.

Later, however, the attorney assigned to Berger announced that his client was “not available” for questioning as a suspect, prosecutors said in a statement.

The lack of testimony meant that the prosecutors have “exhausted all evidence” and the court  once-again closed the investigation against the man “for lack of sufficient suspicion.”

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Berger, who retained his German citizenship, had been living in Tennessee since 1959. But last year a court in Memphis found that he used to serve as a guard for the Neuengamme Concentration Camp complex, within which about 40,000 prisoners died.

The man admitted to US investigators that he had been stationed as a guard at Meppen sub-camp near the German-Dutch border for a few weeks near the end of the war in 1945. However, he claimed he didn’t observe any abuse or killings.

The American judge ruled, nonetheless, that Berger had been involved in guarding prisoners during the camp’s forced evacuation, which took nearly two weeks and led to some 70 deaths among the inmates.

Germany has intensified its hunt for those who played a part in the Nazi killing machine, since the conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk in 2011.

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Berger might’ve escaped prosecution, but more than 200 people have already been tried for their crimes during WWII, according to a report by the New York Times.

Last month, a 95-year-old woman, who'd worked as a secretary at the Stutthof camp, was charged with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people.

Also in February, a 100-year-old former guard at the Sachsenhausen camp was indicted over being involved in 3,518 killings.

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