Former SS soldier, 90, dead: German prosecutors

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A 90-year-old former SS soldier accused of the massacre of 58 Jewish forced labourers at the end of World War II has died before his case came to trial, German prosecutors said Tuesday.

"Adolf S. died at the beginning of last week," Andreas Brendel from the prosecutors' office in the western city of Dortmund told AFP.

"He was not in prison because there was no reason for him to be put there, such as the risk he might run away. We assume he died at home in Duisburg," Brendel told AFP.

In November, prosecutors accused the man, named in media reports as Adolf Storms, of forcing at least 57 labourers into woods near the small town of Deutsch Schuetzen in Austria near the present-day border with Hungary.

There the Jews, who were Hungarians, were stripped of their valuables before being made to kneel down in a ditch. Storms and his accomplices then dispatched them with bullets from behind, prosecutors said in a statement.

The same day or the day after, he gunned down a 58th labourer in nearby Jabing who was too exhausted to continue a forced march of around 100 others, shot in the same "cowardly" manner in the back, prosecutors said.

At the time of the massacre, the Nazis were desperately evacuating concentration camps, forcing emaciated prisoners on exhausting marches and killing those too weak to carry on.

"We are disappointed. We would have liked a trial to take place. But we still needed to clear up the question of whether he was fit to be tried," said Brendel.

© 2010 AFP

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