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Ex-commandant of Auschwitz Camp Dies in Jail While Awaiting Trial

Richard Baer, 51, the last commandant of the Auschwitz murder factory, died in his cell yesterday of an apparent heart attack while awaiting trial for his war crimes, officials reported today.

Baer had directed the operations of the camp, where an estimated 2,500,000 victims were killed and cremated, from the spring of 1942 until the end of the war. He and 23 other Auschwitz officials were awaiting trial on charges of mass murder and atrocities. The trial, scheduled to be held in Frankfurt next year, will continue as originally planned, the officials said, despite the death of the most important defendant.

When the war ended, Baer found work as a woodcutter under an assumed name. He was found and arrested in December 1960, shortly after the state prosecutor’s office offered a $2,380 reward for his apprehension. His two predecessors as commandant, Rudolf Hoess, and A. Liebehenschel, were tried and hanged by the Poles.

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