A judge in Philadelphia issued an order today granting a request for a former Nazi camp guard to be extradited to Germany, but 89-year-old Johann “Hans” Breyer, who, according to his lawyer, had heart disease and dementia, died Tuesday, his lawyer told The Associated Press.
Attorney Dennis Boyle told the news agency that Breyer died Tuesday night at a Philadelphia hospital.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas R. Rice said in his ruling: “There is probable cause to believe that Breyer … is the same person sought for aiding and abetting murder in Germany.”
The extradition request was subject to U.S. government approval.
“German authorities hope to try Breyer on accessory-to-murder charges for his guard service at the Auschwitz death camp in 1944. Breyer told The Associated Press in 2012 that he was forced to work there as an SS guard but never took part in the mass killing of Jews and others.”
Breyer was arrested last month and charged with 158 counts of accessory to murder — one for each trainload of victims brought to Auschwitz between May 1944 and October 1944.
He had immigrated to the U.S. in 1952. An attempt to strip the retired toolmaker of his citizenship in the 1990s failed because he was a natural-born U.S. citizen through his mother, and a judge said that he was coerced into joining the SS while still a minor.
German authorities had hoped to try him on the criminal charges in Weiden, Bavaria.