Nazi death camp suspect charged after years of freedom
One of the world’s most wanted Nazi suspects has been charged in Germany with the murder of 430,000 Jews at a concentration camp.
Former guard Samuel Kunz, 88, had been living undisturbed for decades at his home near Bonn when he received a letter saying he had been charged. Goeke in Dortmund said.
Mr Kunz, who is third on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of most-wanted Nazi suspects, had long been ignored by the German justice system, partly due to a lack of past interest in going after relatively low-ranking camp guards.
But in the past 10 years a younger generation of German prosecutors has emerged interested in bringing all surviving Nazi suspects to justice.
The Wiesenthal Centre’s most wanted is Sandor Kepiro, a former Hungarian gendarmerie officer accused of involvement in the deaths of 1,200 civilians in Serbia, while second on the list is Milivoj Asner, who served as police chief in Croatia during the war. He now lives in Austria, which has refused to extradite him to Croatia on medical grounds.
While Mr Kunz ranked fairly low in the Nazi hierarchy, he is among the top most wanted due to the large number of Jews he is accused of having been involved in killing – which the prosecutor’s office in Dortmund puts at 430,000. The highest-profile example of guards facing trial is the case against John Demjanjuk, the 90-year-old retired car worker being tried in Munich for accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland. (AP)
Mr Kunz’s case came to light because of Mr Demjanjuk.
Authorities recently stumbled over it when they studied old documents from German post-war trials about the SS training camp Trawniki in connection with the trial of Mr Demjanjuk.
Mr Kunz’s charges include participation in the murder of 430,000 Jews at the Belzec death camp in occupied Poland, where he allegedly served as a guard from January 1942 to July 1943, as well as murder over “personal excesses” in which he allegedly shot a total of 10 Jews in two other incidents
Mr Kunz still lives at home and was not detained because officials who interviewed him think that he will not try to flee the country, a person familiar with the case said.
Mr Kunz, an ethnic German, was born in August 1921 on Russia’s Volga River.
As a soldier with the Soviet Red Army during World War II, he was captured by the Germans and given the choice of either staying at the Chelm prisoner of war camp or co-operating with the Nazis.
After the war, he moved to Bonn, worked for many years at a federal ministry and was granted German citizenship.