Former Danish Nazi Helmuth Leif Rasmussen had been under investigation for war crimes during World War II, until the incriminating documents vanished from the State Archives. Experts fear the missing papers were sold on the black market to collectors of Nazi memorabilia.
The 91-year-old Helmuth Leif Rasmussen was reported to the police last year for complicity in war crimes during World War II. He was a soldier in the Nazi unit Free Corps Denmark and served as camp guard outside Bobruisk in present-day Belarus. Now, some of the documents are reported missing from his case, according to newspaper Berlingske.
"The pages are simply ripped out," said historian Martin Magnussen, who in 2012 exposed Denmark's largest theft of documents from the same archive. "The way I assess it, more than half of the case has disappeared, perhaps even closer three quarters," he told Berlingske. In 2012, two people linked to both the motorcycle club Hells Angels and Nazi gatherers' circles were revealed to have systematically stolen from the archives.
At present, it remains unclear whether the inquiry can go on without the missing interviews and interrogations. "This should be investigated," Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's department in Jerusalem and internationally renowned Nazi hunter, told the newspaper.
"This case is of historic importance for Denmark, being the first of its kind in 65 years. It is also a test of Denmark's resolve to bring Nazi criminals to justice," Efraim Zuroff told Berlingske.
"The camp was particularly notorious for its terrible conditions, whereas the Danish guards played an important role. The camp had 1,500 Jewish prisoners. Nearly all of them were murdered or died of physical exhaustion," Zuroff told Swedish newspaper Expressen.
After the war, Helmuth Leif Rasmussen testified against his former boss, accused of killing a Jew with a rifle butt. However, he soon found himself subject of police interrogation as well. He admitted that he had served in the "outer guard force" but said he had only witnessed the killings, but had not participated in them. Rasmussen was sentenced to prison for, among other things, treason against Denmark. He changed his name and lives today in Copenhagen's metropolitan area.
"I wish I had not been in the Corps, but you cannot turn back the clock," Helmuth Leif Rasmussen told Berlingske.
Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940. Free Corps Denmark was a Danish volunteer unit established in 1941 to fight against the Soviet Union. In May 1942, Free Corps Denmark was relocated to the Eastern Front and joined the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf. Over the years, several hundred war crimes committed by approximately 6,000 Free Corps Denmark-members were uncovered. After WWII, about 13,500 Danish nationals were convicted, the majority of the Nazi collaborationists being giving a minimum sentence of two years' imprisonment. In addition, 46 death sentences were given.