By Allan Hall
Last updated at 11:36 AM on 4th April 2011
A former Nazi death camp guard who died last year before answering charges of murdering 430,000 Jews may have been assassinated, prosecutors said on Sunday.
Samuel Kunz, 89, was charged in July 2010 for taking part in the murders at the Belzec death camp in occupied Poland where he served as a guard from January 1942 to July 1943.
He was also charged with murder over ‘personal excesses’ in which he allegedly shot ten Jews in two incidents before they were due to be gassed.
Kunz, who worked for years for the German state building ministry, was 89 when he died. The initial conclusion that he succumbed to heart failure is being challenged after it emerged that the post-mortem showed he died of hypothermia.
Proud Nazi: Samuel Kunz as a young man in uniform
A lawyer has filed an official complaint that he died of unnatural causes, which has prompted the investigation. The allegation is that someone left him out in the cold on purpose to kill him. ‘In effect, an assassination,’ said the prosecutor’s office.
Shortly after his death it emerged that the shadowy group Stille Hilfe – Silent Aid – which is run by former S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler’s daughter had been paying for Kunz’s legal fees.
Just who might have been in a position to slip into Kunz’s sheltered housing apartment to leave him in the cold to die is not clear.
Kunz was interrogated by the German authorities in 1969, 1975 and 1980 although never prosecuted. A sea-change in attitudes towards old Nazis in the German prosecution service in recent years has seen a flurry of indictments, including that of John Demjanjuk, an accused death camp guard at the extermination camp of Sobibor whose trial has been running in Munich for over a year and is due to end next month.
The Munich prosecutor’s office came across Kunz’s name on the roster of Trawniki camp guards – the S.S. facility where he trained – while investigating Demjanjuk, and the case against him was re-activated.
Kunz, unlike Demjanjuk, admitted to being based at a camp, Belzec, during 1942-43, but he denied ‘personal responsibility’ in the deaths.