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Ex-Nazi Suspected in 70,000 Deaths

March 4, 1998

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ German authorities have arrested a former Nazi officer for investigation as an accessory to the 1942-43 killings of 70,000 Jews at a death camp in Poland, prosecutors said today.

The 78-year-old suspect admitted that he personally shot 500 men, women and children in November 1943 at the former Nazi camp at Majdanek, in Lublin, eastern Poland, prosecutors said in a statement.

German security sources identified the man as Alfons Goetzfried, but prosecutors would not immediately confirm that.

The allegations against the former officer are the most wide-ranging in recent years as Germany presses investigations of dozens of alleged Nazi-era criminals.

Prosecutors have identified new suspects through recently opened files from the former communist East Bloc and are pursuing investigations of suspects considered too minor to have been brought to justice during the famous Nuremberg trials. Many suspected war criminals were able to escape prosecution in the turbulent postwar years.

Prosecutors won’t say how the latest suspect was identified, only that he incriminated himself while testifying for a separate investigation in July. The nature of the other investigation was not disclosed.

The suspect was a low-ranking officer in the Nazi security police based in Lublin, prosecutors said. He also was once a member of the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo.

The man was imprisoned for war crimes in the Soviet Union, including a period in Siberia, until 1958, prosecutors said.

After his release, he lived in Kazakhstan until 1991, when he moved to Germany under a program allowing repatriation of ethnic Germans. He became a German citizen later that year.

Prosecutors said he had been tried previously for war crimes by English and Soviet authorities during the 1950s. The charges and outcomes of those trials were not immediately clear.

At the time, he told investigators that he tended horses for the German army and had no involvement in war crimes, prosecutors said.

Authorities arrested him at his home in Stuttgart on Tuesday and placed him under investigative custody. No charges have been filed.

Prosecutors said that the man incriminated himself in statements to investigators last summer, and his arrest warrant was prepared in February after archive material backed up the statements.

Built by the Nazis in 1941 as a POW camp, Majdanek was dedicated in 1942 to the extermination of Jews.

By 1944, 360,000 of the camp’s 500,000 inmates had been murdered in its seven gas chambers or had perished from brutal treatment and inhuman conditions at the camp.

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