Samuel Kunz, an ethnic German, was born in August 1921 in a small village on the Volga River in Russia. During World War II he served in the Red Army. When he was captured by Wehrmacht, he was given the choice of either staying at the Chelm prisoner of war camp or cooperating with the Nazis.
Kunz agreed to work with the Nazis and was sent to the SS training camp at Trawniki, along with some 5,000 other prisoners of war (among them John Demjanjuk ). After the training Kunz was transferred to Belzec where he served as a camp guard.
According to an intercepted report dated 11 January 1943, from the coordinator of “Aktion Reinhard” (code name of the plan to exterminate Jews in Eastern Europe) Hermann Hoefle to Adolf Eichmann, 434,508 Jews and unknown number of Roma and Poles were killed in the gas chambers of Belzec. The victims were brought to the extermination camp by trains. After their arrival they were forced to undress themselves and to deliver their clothes. The women’s hair was cut. Subsequently, first the men, then the women and children were locked in separate chambers, in which an engine’s exhaust gases were fed in. The victims’ agony lasted between 15 and 20 minutes.
In May/June 1943 Kunz allegedly killed eight people himself. One of the guards recognized a Jew from Stanislaw in one of the prisoners of the camp, with whom he had a dispute to settle. Thereupon, the camp commander ordered the shooting of all Jews from Stanislaw imprisoned in the camp. Eight victims were forced to lie down, facing the ground, in a previously dug trench. The aforementioned guard allegedly shot the lying persons. As most of the victims survived this, Kunz allegedly shot the wounded.
In July 1943, Kunz allegedly killed two more persons who had fled from one of the trains. At the end of 1943 the camp at Belzec was shut down and Kunz was transferred to Flossenburg, a concentration camp in Bavaria where he was captured by American troops by the end of the war.
After the war Kunz was granted German citizenship and moved to Bonn, where he worked for many years as a carpenter in the Ministry of Construction until his retirement.
Samuel Kunz was repeatedly interrogated back in 1969, 1975 and 1980 as a witness in connection with the events that took place at Belzec extermination camp but he was never considered to be a suspect.
Kunz’s alleged Nazi past was revealed by several media outlets in connection with the Demjanjuk trial where he was called as a witness. Hence the Dortmund prosecutor’s office started an investigation into the allegations.