CHICAGO — Almost 70 years after the end of the Holocaust, a 93-year-old alleged former Auschwitz guard and one-time Chicago resident was arrested in Germany, according to a Nazi-hunting group and published reports.
Hans Lipschis, who is fourth on the The Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of "Most Wanted Nazis," was arrested in Germany more than 30 years after he'd been ordered to leave the U.S., according to a statement from SWC. The SWC is a Jewish human rights organization focused on the Holocaust and based in Los Angeles.
According to earlier Associated Press reports, the 93-year-old Lithuanian was granted a U.S. Visa in 1956 and lived on the Southwest Side of Chicago until 1983, when he was deported for hiding his past at Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.
Lipschis worked at the camp from 1941 until January 1945, when the Red Army liberated the camp and freed about 7,000 prisoners left behind when the Nazis marched about 60,000 prisoners west to the city of Wodzislaw, according to the SWC. The number of people who died at Auschwitz is estimated to be more than 1.1 million people, though precise counts are disputed.
Germany surrendered to the Allies on May 8, 1945, effectively ending the war in Europe.
"Lipschis' arrest is a welcome first step in what we hope will be a large number of successful legal measures taken by the German judicial authorities against death camp personnel and those who served in the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), which together murdered more than 3 million Jews during the Holocaust," said SWC Chief Nazi Hunter Efraim Zuroff.
He was arrested in the southern German city of Aalen after prosecutors determined there was "compelling evidence" to make a case against him, the BBC News reported. Lipschis' home was searched and he was ordered held in custody by a judge, according to the BBC.
While Lipschis acknowledges he worked at Auschwitz, he claims he was just a cook, according to the BBC.
Lipschis was named by U.S. investigators in a list of suspected war criminals back when the war ended, according to previous AP reports. But he was granted a U.S. visa after he said he'd served in the German army, AP reported.
The BBC reported that he's the first suspect arrested in a recently begun German manhunt for about 50 former Auschwitz guards still alive.
Authorities have apparently known about Lipschis' residence in Aalen for decades, according to the BBC.
German officials had not brought formal charges against Lipschis as of Monday.