Germany Investigates War-Crimes Suspect Found in Phone Book | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 04.12.2008
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Germany Investigates War-Crimes Suspect Found in Phone Book

Germany is studying war-crimes allegations against an 89 year old suspected of killing Jews in World War II. He was located when a student looked him up in the phone book.

Picture of German telephone book

Just look it up: the telephone book holds some surprising information

A prosecutors responsible for war crimes has been sent to the home of an 89-year-old man alleged to have massacred an estimated 60 Jewish prisoners in Austria near the end of the Second World War, they said Thursday, Nov. 4.

An Austrian university student interested in the March 29, 1945 atrocity knew the names of a trio of Waffen SS members said to have gunned down the group of Hungarian Jewish slave laborers.

Professor conducted interviews

The student located the 89-year-old by simply looking up his name in a German telephone directory. The student's professor, Walter Manoschek, then conducted a series of interviews with the man.

Ulrich Maass, senior prosecutor in the western German city of Dortmund, said a prosecutor had been sent to the scene of the murders near Deutsch Schuetzen in Austria to gather evidence.

The investigator would also interview three former Hitler Youth members as witnesses. Nazi Germany employed slaves and German teenagers in a vain bid to build a huge line of fortifications in Austria to hold up the advancing Red Army.

Evidence-gathering phase

Maass said it was too early to say if the man would be indicted, adding, "We have to gather evidence first."

The news magazine Der Spiegel reported earlier that much of the evidence was in the records of a 1956 Austrian trial of two men who oversaw the building project using hundreds of slaves.

That trial ended in acquittal. The builders blamed the killing on the Waffen SS, the Nazi Party's private army. The bodies were exhumed in 1995 and the mass grave was then sealed and blessed by a rabbi.

Der Spiegel said the accused man, who lived quietly in the western city of Duisburg, had discussed his other wartime experiences, but refused to talk about the day of the massacre with professor Manoschek. He had since said he would give no more interviews.