Sunday, April 14, 2024

The United States hands over the guards of a former concentration camp

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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(Berlin) – A German court said, Saturday, that the United States has extradited to Germany a former prison camp guard, now 95, accused of “complicity in murder.”

France Media

He left Tennessee on a medical plane, German Friedrich Karl Berger landed at the end of the morning at Frankfurt airport, where he must now be questioned by investigators and in particular to see if he wanted to “talk about these facts,” a prosecutor’s spokesperson told AFP.

Despite his advanced age, he is in good health and able to undergo interrogation.

During his interrogations in the United States, Mr. Berger admitted that he had been a guard for some time at Camp Neuengamme near Hamburg (north) for a period in 1945, according to the German weekly, woman.

However, he said he was not aware of prisoner abuse or deaths among detainees and claimed that he only complied with orders.

US Department of Justice, photo via AFP

Frederick Karl Berger, photographed 1959

However, it remains to be seen whether or not he will risk a possible trial in Germany: The SEAL attorney general’s office abandoned its proceedings against him specifically in December 2020, for lack of sufficient evidence.

If he is now prepared to testify, proceedings against him can nevertheless be appealed.

Mr. Berger moved to Tennessee in 1959 and lived there for many years without anyone knowing about his past.

It was only after documents from the Nazi era were found in a shipwrecked ship in the Baltic Sea that investigators began searching for him.

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The US justice system suspects involvement in the killing of prisoners while he was a guard in the concentration camp complex in Neuengamme, southeast of Hamburg, and in one of its outdoor camps near Meppen, especially during the March 1945 evacuation.

In March, the American court specialized in immigration cases decided to deport him to Germany “because he voluntarily worked as an armed guard in a detention camp where persecution occurred.”

US Judge Rebecca Holt estimated in March that if these camps were not places of extermination, the detainees there lived in “appalling” conditions and were subjected to forced labor “until they died of fatigue.”

In 1979 the US government created a program dedicated to finding and deporting ex-Nazis living in the United States. Since then, 68 people have been expelled in this context.

The Neuengamme concentration camp was originally established in 1938 as a subcamp of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, located in the far east in Brandenburg. Then it became an independent concentration camp in 1940.

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