A suspected Auschwitz concentration camp guard and former Chicago resident was arrested Monday in Germany, according to a Nazi-hunting group.
Prosecutors in Stuttgart did not name the 93-year-old man, but said he was arrested on "strong suspicion" of having been involved in the slayings at Auschwitz. The Simon Wiesenthal Center said the man is Hans Lipschis, who is fourth on the group's list of most wanted Nazi criminals.
Lipschis was deported from the United States in 1983 after the Justice Department accused him of concealing his Nazi past when he immigrated to the U.S. around 1956.
Prosecutors alleged that the Lithuanian-born man had been a member of the Waffen SS, a Nazi unit whose duties included "systematically exploiting and murdering people because of their race … and other characteristics." Lipschis had been assigned to camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, in Poland, according to the complaint.
Lipschis agreed to accept deportation rather than go on trial before an immigration judge. Then a resident of Chicago's Ashburn neighborhood, he flew to Munich on April 14, 1983. At the time, he was the first person in 34 years to be deported from the U.S. as the result of a war crimes investigation.
Lipschis was able to avoid prosecution in Germany for the next three decades because prosecutors could not link him to a specific crime against a specific victim, said Efraim Zuroff, of the Wiesenthal Center.
But the recent conviction of death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk provided the legal basis for prosecution of Nazi war criminals without evidence of a specific crime and victim, Zuroff said.
A Munich court convicted Demjanjuk in 2011 of playing a part in the killing of 28,000 Jews at a Nazi camp in German-occupied Poland. Demjanjuk died in March of last year while an appeal of his conviction was pending.
Zuroff said Lipschis' name was widely publicized in Germany after officials announced that they were investigating former Auschwitz guards.
"This case is the first of what we hope will be many such cases," Zuroff said.
Reuters contributed.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun