BERLIN — Nearly seven decades after the end of World War II, German authorities have reopened hundreds of dormant investigations of Nazi death camp guards in an eleventh hour attempt that could result in at least dozens of new prosecutions, The Associated Press has learned.
Special Nazi war-crimes investigators reopened the files after the conviction of former U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk, whose case set a new legal precedent in Germany, said Kurt Schrimm, the prosecutor who heads the unit.
Given the advanced age of all of the suspects, investigators are not waiting until the Demjanjuk appeals process is over, he said.
“We don’t want to wait too long, so we’ve already begun our investigations,” Schrimm said.

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, welcomed the news that the files were being re-examined and urged prosecutors to act quickly.
“As our numbers — those of the victims — have also rapidly dwindled, this represents the final opportunity to witness justice carried out in our lifetimes,” he said. “Time is the enemy here.”