Hans Lipschis, 93, who was assigned to an SS guard unit at Auschwitz, was deported from the U.S. and arrested by German authorities today after evidence arose of his service as a camp guard.
Lipschis maintains that he merely served as a cook at the death camp and later left to fight on the Eastern Front, though authorities have concluded that “compelling evidence” exists associating him with Nazi war crimes.
Last month, the Simon Wiesenthal Center named him as number four on its list of most-wanted Nazis.
Until recently, it was impossible to arrest Lipschis, who originally lied about his Nazi past in 1983. Now, a person who served at a death camp can be charged with accessory to murder, thanks to the conviction of Sobibor death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk.
Demjanjuk was the first Nazi war criminal convicted of accessory to murder without evidence of a specific crime or victim.
"This is a very positive step," Efraim Zuross, the chief Nazi hunter at Simon Wiesenthal Center, said. "I hope this will only be the first of many arrests, trials and convictions of death camp guards."
The news of Lipschis’ arrest comes on the same day as Beate Zschäpe’s trial. Zschäpe, a German neo-Nazi, took part in the Döner murders between 2000 and 2006. She and three others will are charged with killing eight men of Turkish descent, carrying out two bombings, and associating herself with a terrorist group called the National Socialist Underground.