Attorney for Anton Tittjung says he has nothing to do with the torture and killing inside the Nazi camps.

Attorney: Kewaunee man not responsible for Nazi camp deaths

An 84-year-old Kewaunee man was one of three alleged former Nazi death-camp guards indicted Sept. 17 by a Spanish judge, who charged them with being accessories to genocide and crimes against humanity. But the attorney for Anton Tittjung said he had nothing to do with the torture and killing inside the Nazi camps.

Tittjung was 18 years old when he was drafted from his home in what is now Croatia into the Nazi SS, which sent him to the Muthausen concentration camp and Gross Raming subcamp, said Attorney Joseph McGinness. There, Tittjung was a lowly sentry, who was not allowed contact with the prisoners, McGinness said.

"The camps had an inner protective area where the prisoners were kept and an outer area, which was removed from where the action was," McGinness said. "Mr. Tittjung's role as a sentry was to provide security for the camp. They like to call him a Nazi death-camp guard. In fact, he was a sentry protecting the outer ring."

Tittjung, who McGinness said is under hospice care in a local nursing home, was one of three men for whom an international arrest warrant was issued by Judge Ismael Moreno of Spain's National Court in Madrid under the country's observance of universal jurisdiction. The law allows certain crimes such as genocide, torture or terrorism to be prosecuted in Spain even if they allegedly occurred elsewhere.

The other two men named in the arrest warrants are Romanian-born Johann Leprich of Detroit and Josias Kumpf, who was born in what is now Serbia and had lived in Racine before being deported to Austria.

All three suspects settled in the United States after World War II, eventually acquired U.S. citizenship, but they were stripped of it in recent years after authorities concluded they had concealed their Nazi past. The United States has tried for years to deport them but found no country willing to take them until Kumpf was deported to Austria in March.

McGinness, who represents both Leprich and Tittjung, said both men likely will be asked to appear in a federal court in the near future for a hearing involving their possible extradition. Leprich suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and Tittjung is seriously ill, he said.

"It's very tragic," McGinness said. "These are men who were drafted into the service. They were sent to garrison duty. They were ordered to the camp and held there under duress. I know what these people really are. I know what they're about, and I know what the government is trying to do. It's very unfortunate."

[Source: By Leigh Ann Wagner Kroening, Kewaunee County News, Green Bay Press-Gazette, 30Sep09]

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