Former SS man dies, war crimes trial called off
A former member of the SS has died aged 90 in Germany just before he was to go on trial for massacring dozens of Jews in an Austrian forest, prosecutors said Tuesday, dpa reported.
The 58 Jewish slave labourers were gunned down by members of the Hitler Youth and the SS near the town of Deutsch Schuetzen in 1945.
An Austrian student discovered the whereabouts of the suspect, who lived in the German city of Duisburg, by looking him up in a telephone directory. He was placed fourth on a list of the 10 most wanted Nazi war criminals published by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem.
War crimes prosecutors in Dortmund said the suspect had died June 28 before judges could decide whether to accept the murder indictment. The case had been touch and go because of his frail health.
Investigators say he was an officer in an SS armoured unit and ordered the killings on March 28, 1945 with only weeks to go before the defeat of Nazi Germany, which at the time included Austria.
They said he had been a Nazi fanatic who regarded Jews as inferior beings.
The Dortmund prosecutors say they still have 20 open files on Nazi war crimes, nine of them involving events in Italy, six in France and two in Poland.