Former Auschwitz guard dies days before trial

A former Auschwitz guard has died days before his trial in Germany -- dashing the hopes of survivors who wanted to see justice for their dead parents.

Ernst Tremmel, who was 93, was a guard at the notorious Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.

He was accused of 1,075 counts of accessory to murder, covering the time he worked at the camp from November 1942 to June 1943.

Tremmel's trial was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, and Auschwitz survivors were due to give testimony.

Israel Loewenstein, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor whose parents died at Auschwitz, had hoped Tremmel would face justice late in his life.

"But then again we don't know if he would have even told the truth about Auschwitz - many of the accused don't, after all," he said.

Henry Foner's father also died at Auschwitz.

"There can never be closure," he said.

"Closure to me is meaningless - you can't get back what has been taken."

Tremmel was not directly involved in the mass killings at Auschwitz, but he was a member of the Nazi SS guard team that regularly oversaw the selection process which decided who lived and who was killed.

Loewenstein remembered the selection process when he arrived at the death camp in March 1943, aged 18.

"We came to Auschwitz in the middle of the night after four days on a train without food," he said.

"Suddenly, the doors were torn open, headlights were blazing, German shepherd dogs were barking and we only heard the guards yell 'Get out! Get out!'"

German courts are hearing two other Auschwitz cases.

The trials of 95-year-old Hubert Zafke, a former Auschwitz paramedic, and of 94-year-old Reinhold Hanning, a former guard at the death camp, have already started.

Both have remained silent on the accusations so far.

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