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Germany prosecutors to consider new evidence against surviving Nazi concentration camp guards

[JURIST] The head of Germany's special Nazi war crimes agency [German Federal Archives backgrounder], Kurt Schrimm, announced Monday that his office would soon turn over to state prosecutors the results of investigations into war crimes allegedly committed by several former concentration camp guards. As many as 20 men and women could be prosecuted [Reuters report] for their role in killings and atrocities that occurred at Majdanek [USHMM news archive], a former Nazi death camp in eastern Poland, during World War II [BBC backgrounder]. Schrimm's office, lacking the power to file charges, will relinquish the details of an investigation that identified [AP report] approximately 30 former prison camp guards, of which 10 are deceased. National prosecutors will then decide whether to bring accessory to murder charges against the remaining 20 individuals, all currently living in Germany. Schrimm believes most of the suspects will escape further investigation and/or court action because of thin evidence and the age and health of many of the suspects. Schrimm's office initially set out to investigate thousands of former guards at Majdanek, which was both a labor camp and a death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, but ultimately focused its probe on guards present during killings that occurred there. Approximately 360,000 Jews and others were killed at Majdanek.

The Majdanek investigation is the second large-scale probe into crimes by Nazi war camp guards since the 2011 conviction [JURIST report] of former Sobibor camp guard, John Demjanjuk, found guilty of murder despite the lack of evidence linking him to any killings. The circumstances of Demjanjuk's conviction prompted Schrimm to push for the prosecution of thirty former Auschwitz guards. In August 2013, a 98-year-old Hungarian police officer died [JURIST report] just weeks before facing charges in two countries for transporting thousands of Jews during the Holocaust to various camps and death sites, ultimately to be murdered. In May 2013, German officials arrested [JURIST report] 93-year-old Hans Lipschis for his alleged involvement in the mass murders that took place at Auschwitz during the war. The charges were dropped [JURIST report] in February as Lipschis suffers from dementia.

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