Wednesday 22 July 2015 03.05 BST
Nazi hunters target Danish SS volunteer

Simon Wiesenthal Centre asks police in Copenhagen to investigate Helmuth Leif Rasmussen, aka Rasboel, aged 90, over wartime mass killings of Jews in Belarus.

A leading Nazi hunter has asked Denmark to investigate a 90-year-old Dane over possible involvement in the mass murder of Jews in Belarus during the second world war.

Ephraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre contacted the Copenhagen police on Tuesday after the justice ministry in 2014 turned down a similar request saying it was not their matter.

Zuroff told the Associated Press there was a strong case against Helmuth Leif Rasmussen because of documents found by Danish historians published in a book in 2014, and that they were looking at other cases. The book, En skole i vold (A Book of Violence), claims that 1,400 Jews died in Belarus when Rasmussen, now known by the name Rasboel, was in the “inner circle” of the Bobruisk camp run by the SS.

“Some of these people were involved in terrible crimes,” Zuroff said. “Now we’re looking for additional Danish Waffen SS who served in this camp. This might only be the tip of the iceberg.”

Some 6,000 Danish volunteers joined the SS during the second world war after the German army invaded the country in 1940. Prosecutors said they would review the material before deciding if they need further information.

“It is a matter we take very seriously,” Morten Nils Jakobsen from the state prosecutor’s office of serious economic and international crimes told Danish news agency Ritzau.

Rasboel, who lives in Copenhagen, has acknowledged in interviews that he had been a guard and a member of the SS but has denied involvement in killings.

One of the authors of the book, Dennis Larsen, who has interviewed Rasboel twice, says he admitted seeing Jews “being killed and thrown into mass graves”. “But he always said he was a bystander,” Larsen said. “He said he was just a guard, nothing else.”