A pensioner with links to Holmfirth has become the first person in the UK to be investigated for Nazi war crimes, it has been reported.
Stanislaw Chrzanowski, who had lived in Holmfirth and Shropshire, was being investigated in Germany over the murder of civilians in his home town of Slonim in Belarus.
Mr Chrzanowski died aged 96 in October not knowing he was under investigation, the BBC reported.
Prosecutors in Germany have confirmed they are now looking through immigration records for possible new suspects in the UK.
Mr Chrzanowski came to Britain after being taken as a prisoner of war and then joining Allied forces.
His alleged involvement in war crimes was first brought to the attention of British police when his stepson John Kingston, of Holmfirth, sent a dossier of evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s war crimes unit.
Mr Kingston suspected his stepfather because of stories he allegedly told him when he was a child.
In the 1990s Mr Kingston, who died last week, went to Slonim where he met people who claimed they saw Mr Chrzanowski shooting prisoners at death pits in the forests while working as an auxiliary policeman assisting invading Nazi troops.
He was questioned by Metropolitan Police detectives, but no action was taken as the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence, according to the BBC.
The case was re-opened a year ago when Nazi war crime prosecutors based in Ludwigsburg, Germany, asked to see the interviews.
Mr Chrzanowski, who had lived in Holmfirth for a short time, always denied he was a war criminal.
It was reported this week that Thomas Will, deputy Nazi war crime prosecutor in Ludwigsburg, believed there was sufficient evidence from the accounts to launch a criminal investigation and the federal court ruled last July that he could be tried in Germany, passing the case to prosecutors.
Shortly before he died, Mr Kingston was reported to have said: “I think it’s good that Germany should actually do something to try to put the past right.
“My stepfather is just one individual, and there were thousands like him, so it’s more important that he’s an example or a case in particular.”
The Chrzanowski case is being hailed as a landmark in Nazi war crime investigations by German prosecutors. They believe it means anyone accused of murder who served in a German unit can now be prosecuted – regardless of their nationality, the nationality of their victims or where their crimes were committed.
Andrej Umanski, a legal expert at Cologne University, told the BBC: “I would say we are pushing the law to its maximum and showing that crimes like this will be punished even 70 years afterwards because they were so grave.”