Barbed wire is seen at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp 'Neuengamme' in Hamburg, northern Germany
Barbed wire is seen at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp 'Neuengamme' in Hamburg, northern Germany
Photo: AFP
Barbed wire is seen at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp 'Neuengamme' in Hamburg, northern Germany

Germany drops probe against ex-Nazi camp guard in U.S.

Investigations say evidence available has not linked Friedrich Karl Berger, 95, 'to any specific act of killing'; he was accused of aiding and abetting the killing of prisoners at 2 concentration camps which were part of the infamous Neuengamme network

AFP |
Published: 12.10.20 , 15:30
Germany has dropped a probe into a former Nazi guard who was slated to become "possibly the last" suspect deported from the U.S. for alleged complicity in the Holocaust, prosecutors said Thursday.
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  • Friedrich Karl Berger, 95, had been accused of aiding and abetting the killing of prisoners as a guard at two concentration camps in northern Germany, in particular by overseeing a brutal evacuation march.
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    Barbed wire is seen at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp 'Neuengamme' in Hamburg, northern Germany
    Barbed wire is seen at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp 'Neuengamme' in Hamburg, northern Germany
    Barbed wire is seen at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp 'Neuengamme' in Hamburg, northern Germany
    (Photo: AFP)
    A court in March ordered his deportation from the U.S., where he has been living since 1959.
    Berger had admitted guarding prisoners in the camps, which were part of the infamous Neuengamme network, but said he had not observed any mistreatment or overseen an evacuation.
    "Berger was part of the SS machinery of oppression that kept concentration camp prisoners in atrocious conditions of confinement," U.S. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said at the time.
    But no further evidence is available and U.S. investigations "have not linked the accused to any specific act of killing", German prosecutors said.
    "No further information is to be expected from a hearing of the accused in Germany."
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    Neuengamme prisoners working on a canal of the Dove Elbe
    Neuengamme prisoners working on a canal of the Dove Elbe
    Neuengamme prisoners working on the Dove Elbe canal in northern Germany
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    Prisoners in the two camps in the town of Meppen were subjected to forced labor from early 1945.
    They were not extermination camps, but many people died in them due to overcrowding, a lack of food and horrific living conditions.
    In March 1945, evacuation marches towards the main camp in Neuengamme as Allied troops advanced led to the death of about 70 prisoners from exhaustion.
    Overall, a total of 379 prisoners died in both camps during evacuation.
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    Sleeping quarters in the subcamp at Wöbbelin.
    Sleeping quarters in the subcamp at Wöbbelin.
    Sleeping quarters the Wöbbelin concentration camp, a subcamp of Neuegamme
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    In 1979, the U.S. government created the Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations dedicated to finding Nazis, which has helped to deport 67 people, its director Eli Rosenbaum told AFP in March.
    Berger's Nazi case was "possibly the last" in the United States, Rosenbaum said.
    The details into how Berger was identified as a former Nazi guard remain under seal.
    The last such deportation was of 95-year-old former SS guard Jakiw Palij, who had lived in New York since 1949 and was expelled in August 2018.

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