Accused in 430,000 deaths, Nazi suspect, 89, dies before trial
Recently indicted in Holocaust court
BERLIN — Samuel Kunz, one of the world’s most-wanted Nazi suspects who was under indictment on allegations he was involved in killing hundreds of thousands of Jews at a concentration camp in occupied Poland, has died, a Bonn court said yesterday.
The 89-year-old Kunz died Thursday, the Bonn state court said in a short statement that included few details on the cause of death.
Kunz’s name had surfaced in past investigations, but the recent allegations came up in Germany as prosecutors were poring through World War II-era documents in preparation for another case, that against the retired autoworker from Ohio, John Demjanjuk, who is being tried in Munich.
The resulting investigation prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to list Kunz in April as the world’s third-most-wanted Nazi, citing allegations that he was involved personally in the killings and other crimes of “enormous scope,’’ said the center’s chief Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff.
“This is incredibly frustrating and I would urge the German authorities to expedite the remaining cases so that justice can be achieved,’’ Zuroff told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from Jerusalem, after learning of Kunz’s death.
Still, he said: “He was under indictment — I think that’s very important, I wouldn’t minimize that fact. At least a small measure of justice was achieved.’’
Kunz was indicted in July on 10 counts of murder and 430,000 counts of accessory to murder on allegations he trained at the SS Trawniki camp in occupied Poland and was sent from there to the Belzec death camp as a guard from January 1942 through July 1943.
In his indictment, prosecutors said he was involved in the entire process of killing Jews at Belzec: from taking victims from trains, to pushing them into gas chambers, to throwing corpses into mass graves.
Kunz had long been ignored by the German justice system, with authorities in the past showing little interest in going after relatively low-ranking camp guards. But a younger generation of German prosecutors has begun pursuing all people suspected of involvement in the Holocaust, regardless of rank.