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Germans charge Philly man, 89

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 8:27 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — An 89-year-old Philadelphia resident was ordered held without bail on Wednesday on a German arrest warrant charging him with aiding and abetting the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children while he was a guard at Auschwitz.

Johann “Hans” Breyer, a retired toolmaker, was arrested by U.S. authorities on Tuesday night. Breyer spent the night in custody and appeared frail during a detention hearing in federal court, wearing an olive green prison jumpsuit and carrying a cane.

The district court in Weiden, Germany, issued a warrant for Breyer's arrest the day before, charging him with 158 counts of complicity in the commission of murder.

Each count represents a trainload of Nazi prisoners from Hungary, Germany and Czechoslovakia who were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau between May 1944 and October 1944, the documents said.

Attorney Dennis Boyle argued his client is too infirm to be detained pending a hearing on his possible extradition to Germany. Breyer has mild dementia and heart issues, and has suffered strokes, Boyle said.

“Mr. Breyer is not a threat to anyone,” Boyle said. “He's not a flight risk.”

Breyer has admitted he was a guard at Auschwitz in occupied Poland during World War II, but has told The Associated Press he was stationed outside of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp part of the complex and had nothing to do with the slaughter of about 1.5 million prisoners behind the gates.

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