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US deports former Nazi concentration camp guard to Germany

February 20, 2021 GMT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard was deported from the United States and arrived Saturday in his native Germany where he was being held by police for questioning, authorities said.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said in a statement that Friedrich Karl Berger, a German citizen, was sent back to Germany for serving as a guard of a Neuengamme concentration camp subcamp in 1945. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

German authorities confirmed Berger arrived Saturday at Frankfurt and was handed over to Hesse state investigators for questioning, the dpa news agency reported.

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Berger was ordered expelled by a Memphis, Tennessee court in February 2020.

German prosecutors in the city of Celle investigated the possibility of bringing charges against him, but said in December that they had shelved the probe because they had been unable to refute his own account of his service at Neuengamme.

Berger admitted to U.S. authorities that he served as a guard at a camp in northwestern Germany, which was a subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp, for a few weeks near the end of the war but said he did not observe any abuse or killings, Celle prosecutors said.

Celle prosecutors asked for him to be questioned again upon his return to Germany, however, to determine whether accessory to murder charges could be brought, police said.

In recent years, German prosecutors have successfully argued that by helping a death camp or concentration camp function, guards can be found guilty of accessory to murder even if there is no evidence of them participating in a specific killing.

According to an ICE statement, Berger served at the subcamp near Meppen, Germany, where prisoners - Russian, Polish, Dutch, Jewish and others - were held in “atrocious” conditions and were worked “to the point of exhaustion and death.”

Berger admitted that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping. He also accompanied prisoners on the forced evacuation of the camp that resulted in the deaths of 70 prisoners.

Berger has been living in the U.S. since 1959.