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Press Release

ADL Welcomes Arrest of Philadelphia Man Charged as Nazi Guard at Auschwitz

New York, NY, June 18, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the arrest of an 89-year-old Philadelphia man identified by federal authorities as a former Nazi SS guard at two concentration camps during World War II.

Johann Breyer was charged with 158 counts of complicity in the commission of murder, representing prisoners brought to the camp on a train from Hungary, Germany and Czechoslovakia who were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau between May and October 1944.

“We applaud the German and American governments for their commitment to ensuring that, while justice may be delayed, perpetrators of the Holocaust will be pursued to the end, no matter how long it takes,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor.  “This commitment to accountability for atrocities committed during the Holocaust gives hope and comfort to victims of other acts of genocide, whether in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia or elsewhere.  We are especially grateful for the tireless efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice, which has long sought an order of deportation against Breyer, who served in the Nazi SS as a guard at two notorious concentration camps during World War II.

The League praised the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Department of Justice for doggedly pursuing charges against Breyer through the years, and for their part in the effort to finally bring him to justice.  The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations has successfully pursued justice for Holocaust victims for decades under the leadership of Eli M. Rosenbaum.  In fact, the office has won more court cases against Nazi war criminals than the governments of all other countries of the world combined.  In recent years, OSI was fused with DOJ’s Domestic Security Section to form a new Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section to build on OSI’s record and expand America’s efforts to punish and prevent human rights violations.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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Update

July 25, 2014

Johann Breyer died just hours before a U.S. magistrate judge in Philadelphia ruled that he could be extradited to Germany to face murder charges for his alleged Holocaust-era crimes.  His death was confirmed on July 24 by his attorney and a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

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