Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2012 22:31 Written by Associated Press
The suspect, whose name was not released, is a non-German living outside Germany, but Mr Schrimm would give no other details.
Schrimm said charges of accessory to murder can be filed under the same legal theory that Munich prosecutors used to try former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died in a Bavarian nursing home in March while appealing his 2011 conviction on charges he served as a Sobibor death camp guard.
Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in a specific killing. Under the new legal theory, anyone who was involved in the operation of a death camp was an accessory to murder. Demjanjuk steadfastly maintained that he had been mistaken for someone else and never served as a camp guard.
Even though the Demjanjuk verdict is not considered legally binding because he died before appeals were exhausted, Mr Schrimm said the same legal principle can be applied in the case of the alleged Auschwitz guard.
About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz camp complex between 1940 and 1945.
"I can't say when he was where in the camp, but all of these guards were stationed at times on the ramps, at times at the gas chambers and at times in the towers," Mr Schrimm said.
Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he welcomed the news of the investigation but cautioned that even if the suspect is charged, bringing him to Germany for trial could present challenges.
Mr Schrimm's office has turned the case over to prosecutors in Weiden, in Bavaria, to determine whether to file charges. Weiden has jurisdiction over the area where the suspect last lived in Germany.
Weiden prosecutors' spokesman Norbert Dietl said the files were received on Monday, and that it would probably take at least a month to make a decision on the case.