German authorities, in a last push to punish Nazi atrocities, have raided the homes of nine suspected former guards at the Auschwitz death camp. Three men aged 88, 92, and 94 were arrested yesterday in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and are now in a prison hospital, reports the AP. Officials say “diverse papers and documents from the Nazi era” were seized from the men’s homes, but not enough evidence was uncovered for the other six men to be arrested.
The only suspect to make a statement was the 88-year-old, who admitted being a guard at the camp where an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered but denied committing any crimes. The effort to track down former Auschwitz guards was launched after the conviction of John Demjanjuk, in which a court decided that being a guard at a death camp was enough to warrant conviction for being an accessory to murder, the BBC reports. “This is a major step,” says the chief Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. “Given the advanced age of the defendants, every effort should be made to expedite their prosecution.”