Bruno Karl Blach, an accused Nazi war criminal who was extradited to Germany from the United States following a lengthy legal procedure, was acquitted last week of all charges against him.
In addition, Dominik Gleba, another accused Nazi, drew a suspended two-year prison sentence from the same court.
The prosecution had charged both men with having shot slave labor camp inmates in Austria in April 1945.
The court in the western German city of Duisberg found that it could not prove guilt against Blach, who is 73.
Gleba, also 73, received a suspended two-year sentence for complicity in the murder of one inmate. That murder occurred during a so-called “death march,” when 2,500 inmates of the Wiener-Neudorf slave labor camp were ordered to walk to the Mauthausen death camp.
Blach was extradited to Germany in 1990 to stand trial for killing inmates at two concentration camps where he served as a guard.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Blach lived in the Los Angeles suburb of La Habra. The U.S. Justice Department charged that he entered the United States illegally in 1956, having lied to U.S. authorities about his wartime activities in the Waffen SS. He maintained he had been in the German army and air force.
The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations alleged that Blach joined the Nazi Party in January 1939, becoming a Death’s Head battalion SS guard and dog handler at the Dachau death camp from 1940 to 1943 and at the Wiener-Neudorf camp from 1943 to 1945.
A West German investigation indicated that Blach, as an SS corporal, killed 38 inmates at Wiener-Neudorf because they were too weak to evacuate when the camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
His deportation trial in southern California was an emotionally charged proceeding where numerous Holocaust survivors gave testimony against him.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.