German authorities are reopening hundreds of investigations of former Nazi death camp guards in an attempt to bring the last living Nazi war criminals to justice, AP reports.
Investigators reopened the cases after the May conviction of John Demjanjuk, who was found guilty of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder for his role as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Poland during World War II, according to AP.
With time as the enemy — the youngest suspect is in his 80s — Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said within the next two months he will begin to track down the suspects, the Guardian said. Investigators won’t be waiting for Demjanjuk’s appeals process to finish.
Demjanjuk’s case was the first time someone was convicted in a Nazi-era case without direct evidence linking the suspect to a specific killing.
In bringing Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. autoworker, to trial, Munich prosecutors argued that if they could prove that he was a guard at a camp like Sobibor — established for the sole purpose of extermination — it was enough to convict him of accessory to murder as part of the Nazi's machinery of destruction.
Kurt Schrimm, the head of the German prosecutor’s office, told the Daily Mail his office was reviewing its files to find suspects who fit the same profile as Demjanjuk, and said there were probably less than 1,000 left living.
Schrimm said prosecutors and investigators will be looking into people who both worked in death camps and who also worked for mobile death squads like the Einsatzgruppen.