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Alleged Nazi Arrested: Jewish Leaders in Scranton React

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.

31 comments

    • Nmd

      The previous pope was in the hitler youth which was a big thing before the holocaust started, it was pretty much the Boy Scouts (sort of) with some training. You got to keep in mind though that Germany’s economy at the time (before the war) wasn’t good and a lot of people were poor and did not have much. Joining the hitler youth gave you some privileges such as more clothing and whatnot. Therefore a lot of people (kids) joined for the benefits they got to join. Being in the hitler youth doesn’t necessarily mean you went on to participate in the holocaust because the hitler youth predated the war and the holocaust.

    • Nmd

      You can’t compare the two. Our troops are over there fighting a war. The people they are supposed to be killing are a threat to them, right? The people the were killed in the holocaust weren’t involved in the military or the war. Families we’re tortured, starved, and killed by the masses for absolutely no reason. Now if our troops were killing INNOCENT people over there then yes I’d expect them to be charged for it.

      • Don't Believe All You're Told

        Here’s a question for you. What threat were the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians who were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Should the crews of the Enola Gay and Bockscar have been charged in the same way? How would you rationalize those murders?

  • Nmd

    It really doesn’t matter how old this guy is he should still face the consequences for what he did all those years ago. Besides the 6 million Jewish people who were exterminated during the holocaust , around 5-6 million others also suffered the same fate. That is 11-12 million INNOCENT people that were wiped off the face of the earth for no reason other than the fact that were seen as inferior and not able to help the Germans in anyway during the war. This guy had the luxury of living life as a free man for the last 70 years. He absolutely should pay for what he did, anyone involved should.

    • Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

      Uh, the number is supposedly 6 million…not 11, 12, or 300 bazillion. I’d encourage anyone to do some research in their spare time, and learn something, instead of sitting in front of the TV with the Kardashians, stuffing our faces with Hot Pockets, and spouting hyperbole. You might also want to give some consideration to the much larger number of other religions and ethnicities that were also murdered, by both sides. For some reason, our history lessons never emphasize all of the other folks that were killed. They are forgotten. It’s very sad and disgusting.

      • Nmd

        I actually studied the holocaust in college so don’t tell me to do some research. 6 million Jewish people were killed. On top of that around 5-6 million more people that included the mentally ill, polish people, gypsies, etc. YOU are the one who needs to do some research. Do a simple google search at how many PEOPLE were killed in the holocaust in the camps and you will then find out the number is close to 12 million. Then you can respond with an apology.

      • Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

        I will admit that my comment was poorly worded. It wasn’t really my intention to put you on the “Kardashians and Hot Pockets” team. :-) After reading my comment again, i can see that it definitely came across the wrong way. Really, the first sentence was the only part I was directing at you. I incorrectly assumed that I was reading one of those arbitrary inflations of the Jewish victim count, which is something I see people do all of the time. The rest of it was kind of a commentary on the state of our society today, and a plea for others to seek the truth. I definitely could have chosen my words better. My use of the word “you” made it look like I was talking about you, but I wasn’t. We have this awesome tool called the internet at our disposal today, and rather than using it to seek more knowledge, so many of us are just zombified by pop culture. It really just sends me over the edge sometimes. When many of us were younger, we had to work so much harder to learn, and find the answers to our questions. It drives me nuts when I see so many taking this technology for granted. So yes, I do apologize for unintentionally tossing you into the fire.

    • Don't Believe All You're Told

      Jen, Maybe I’m missing something, but I only see one distasteful comment here. So anyone who has questions about this case is now hateful? Like “Question” said below, all of you need to look it up, and see what our own government did with actual high ranking people, who were far more responsible for any atrocities that may have happened in those camps. Do you know who Reinhard Gehlen was? Otto von Bolschwing? How about Wernher von Braun, and the others who were responsible for our space program? Please inform yourselves. Why were these people not charged? Or you could just give this a thumbs down, out of reactionary ignorance. All I’m doing is presenting facts.

      • Phillie

        Werner Von Braun was the head of NASA and the man most responsible for the USA landing men on the moon and returning them safely to Earth. However, he was also a member of the infamous S.S. who designed the “V” bombs that terrorized London during WWII. Those bombs were manufactured, with his knowledge, by slave labor in horrendous conditions. He probably should have been held responsible for his actions.

      • Don't Believe All You're Told

        Thank you, PHILLIE. It’s nice to see someone else who at least has a little knowledge in the comment section here, rather than regurgitating the same old clich├ęs . If people knew how many “war criminals” our government took in, their minds would be blown. The US absorbed some real bad dudes, in order to bolster our space program and other areas of technology. We also used many of them as intelligence assets in our cold war with the Soviets. THAT is why I’m surprised to see people freaking out over some lowly guard, when they know nothing, or very little, about how complicit our own government was. My comments have nothing to do with me being a hateful person. Some folks just don’t want to hear the facts, and when you present them, they take them completely wrong. Anyone reading this who’d like to learn some shocking stuff, really should run over to YouTube and look for a good documentary on that Operation Paperclip. It will forever change your perception of our wonderful “leaders”.

  • Fast Eddie

    Cry me a river.Teach to turn the other cheek, and then ask how can this happen.Throw out all the garbage in your little temple and worship your true savior, Captain America

    • burtfan

      Fast Eddie, you are a complete moron. I believe in free speech but your comments just waste space on this board. Why don’t you go join some chatroom filled with idiots. Since you’re below the status of an idiot, maybe you’ll learn something. Life is too short to read what someone like you has to say. Move on, I beg you.

      • Fast Eddie

        Why don’t you pick a time and place to meet me today and you can shut my mouth for me?
        Also today change your crusty sweatpants. I can smell you from your mother’s room and the stench is affecting my performance.

  • Travis

    Isn’t it possible this man only did this to keep himself and family alive? I would do anything to keep myself any my family safe no matter if I knew it was wrong or not that is human/animal instinct I think if he’s truly sorry he should be let go I mean the guys 89 he’s gonna die soon anyway

    • Rob

      Wow, I’m impressed. You just manage to rationalize away one of the greatest atrocities in human history. If you can sleep soundly at night knowing that you snuffed out countless innocent lives “just to feed your family,” then you’re a heartless shell of a person.

      • QUESTION WITH BOLDNESS

        You do realize that 60 million OTHER people were murdered during the war, right? Funny how THAT is okay though. How many bomber pilots, or artillery men do you give that line to? I’m not condoning anything, but like I said earlier, “history is written by the victors”. You might want to take a look at your own government(not what the media tells you), before passing judgment on a single man that you know nothing about.

      • Jen

        To “Question with Boldness”: you do realize that in telling others not to judge, you are judging, don’t you?
        First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
        Because I was not a Socialist.

        Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
        Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
        Because I was not a Jew.

        Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

    • Justathinking

      Did you ever watch “The boy in the striped pajamas”? It’s just a small, speck of what happened. I would surely risk my life, rather involvement, for what was the most inhumane slaughter in history. 89, he remembers and if he doesnt, then he will be fine in prison.

    • QUESTION WITH BOLDNESS

      There are much bigger questions you should be asking. Try looking up “Project Paperclip”. It’s quite possible, this man was a nobody. Never forget, “history is written by the victors”. We have not always been taught every side of a story.

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