Philadelphia Man, 89, Held On Nazi Death Camp Charges - Dallas News |

Philadelphia Man, 89, Held On Nazi Death Camp Charges

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - An 89-year-old Philadelphia man has been ordered held without bail on a German arrest warrant charging him with aiding and abetting the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children while he was a guard at the Auschwitz death camp.

The man, retired toolmaker Johann "Hans" Breyer, was taken into custody by U.S. authorities Tuesday.

His attorney argued in court Wednesday that his client is too frail to be detained, but prosecutors say the detention center is equipped care for him.

Breyer has admitted he was an Auschwitz guard during World War II but has said he was stationed outside and had nothing to do with the slaughter of about 1.5 million Jews and others there.

The German investigation comes after years of failed U.S. efforts to have Breyer stripped of his American citizenship and deported.

Shirley Breyer left federal court with family members, refusing to comment.

"He is charged with having been an armed guard at the Auschwitz - Birkenau concentration camp," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Foulkes.

The feds say then 18-year-old Johann Breyer was a member of the death's head guard battalion at Auschwitz from May to October 1944 when train loads were put to death.

“There was a heightened execution of Jewish deportees brought to the camp. Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany," said said Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Foulkes. "Most of them were women, children and people with illness."

Breyer was arrested Tuesday night by the U.S. Marshals in the driveway of his Woodbridge Road home in the northeast after returning from a trip to buy an air conditioner. His lawyer says he should be freed from the detention center until an extradition hearing. He suffers from dementia and heart problems. He's also had several strokes.

Neighbors in Breyer's tight knit community were stunned.

“You just never know who you're living by, you just really never know,” said neighbor Valerie Hill.

Prosecutors want Breyer extradited to Germany on the charges. He faces a hearing on August 21st.

“For the people, for the Jews who suffered, I know they're concerned who live in the area,” said  Hill.

“He deserves to go back and get whatever punishment is done for him,” said neighbor Kelly Devlin.

At today’s hearing, Breyer's attorney says he will challenge the United States Extradition Treaty with Germany and contend that his return to Germany would be a violation of international law.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.        

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.  All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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