SCRANTON — Members of the Jewish community in Scranton are reacting to news of a suspected Nazi guard’s arrest.
Johann “Hans” Breyer, 89 years old, was arrested in Philadelphia Tuesday, accused of aiding and abetting the deaths of 216,000 Jews in the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland during World War II.
“Even thought this man is 89, and you might be tempted to say, ‘Well, you know, gee, isn’t it too late?’ it’s really important to remember and this is an opportunity for folks to learn and to have to face up to what happened,” said Rabbi Daniel Swartz of Temple Hesed in Scranton.
Jewish leaders in Scranton said all Jews know or are related to someone who perished in the Holocaust.
Rabbi Moshe Saks of Temple Israel in Scranton said his parents actually live just blocks from Breyer’s home in Philadelphia.
Rabbi Saks once visited Auschwitz.
“You see pictures, you hear about it , you know people who have been through it, but once you’re there, it just is overwhelming,” he said.
A sculpture stands in front of the Jewish Community Center in Scranton, called “Lest We Forget” in remembrance of the Holocaust.
Earlier this year, Sam Rosen of Scranton passed away. At 92 years old, he was considered the area’s last living Holocaust survivor. He lost his parents, 11 siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins in the Holocaust.
“We have no cemeteries. We have no place to go, the only one place we can go is Jerusalem to the Holocaust museum and see the ashes of Auschwitz,” he said in an interview in 1998.
Those Newswatch 16 spoke with said in the end, this story is about much more than the alleged crimes of one man. It is about making the world, sit up, take notice and never forget.
“Whoever it is that somebody is threatening to wipe out, the world has to speak up and make sure it doesn’t happen anymore,” said Rabbi Swartz.