German state prosecutors are preparing to prosecute more than two dozen surviving former German SS guards who are alleged to have worked at the infamous Auschwitz death camp that played a central role in the Nazi Holocaust.
The mass circulation German daily newspaper, Bild, said it had tracked down several of the former guards who had been living undetected as various locations in Germany since the end of World War II.
The newspaper said all were in their late eighties and nineties and many were infirm. Several claimed to be "unable to remember" the Second World War. Members of their families demanded that their elderly relatives be left in peace.
Bild said that several of the ex-Nazi guards had been identified as a result of a campaign launched in Germany earlier this year by Nazi hunters from the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
Entitled "Operation last chance" the campaign is seeking information on suspected Nazi war criminals still alive. The Simon Wiesenthal centre has said it has been surprised by the number of tip-offs it obtained from the public in response to its campaign.
German state prosecutors' decision to pursue Nazi death camp guards follows a legal precedent set in 2012 when the former Ukrainian death camp guard John Demjanjuk was found guilty of war crimes by a Munich court. His mere presence at the Nazi Sobibor extermination camp was enough to convict him
Bild said the state prosecutors faced the difficult task of deciding whether those surviving guards who had been identified would be fit enough to stand trail.