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Germany officials arrest three suspected former Auschwitz guards

German officials on Thursday raided the homes of three men and arrested them for their suspected roles as guards at the Auschwitz [USHMM backgrounder] death camp during World War II. The men, aged 88, 92 and 94, are currently being detained [BBC report] in the Hohenasperg prison hospital. They are being charged as accessories to murder, an example set by the successful prosecution [AP report] of John Demjanjuk, the first individual to be convicted in Germany on the basis of being a guard at a Nazi concentration camp. This is the latest development in Germany's renewed efforts to bring justice to Nazi-era war criminals, and comes five months after German prosecutors announced that it would be opening investigations into about 30 suspected former Nazis. Following the arrests several other raids were executed, reportedly discovering [AFP report] a significant amount of Nazi-era documents. Prosecutors stated that they are still gathering evidence and building cases against other individuals but are not yet able to arrest them.

German officials reopened [JURIST report] several investigations into Nazi-era war criminals after the conviction [JURIST report] of Demjanjuk in 2011. Most recently on January 8, 2014 German officials announced [JURIST report] they would be dropping charges against Siert Bruins, a former member of the Nazi Waffen SS accused of executing a Dutch resistance fighter in 1944, citing gaps in the available evidence. That same day German officials announced that murder charges had been filed [JURIST report] against another former Nazi, identified only as "Werner C" for his alleged involvement in a 1944 massacre in southern France. He is accused of having murdered 25 individuals personally, and aided his fellow SS members in the murders of another 642. In August 2013 the German prosecutor specializing in Nazi era war crimes announced [JURIST report] that the office's Auschwitz investigations were nearly complete.

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