Michael Seifert, a Nazi war criminal known as the ‘Beast of Bolzano’, has died aged 86 in an Italian hospital, where he was serving a life sentence.
The Ukrainian-born Seifert became a Nazi prison guard following German occupation. After the war ended, he moved to Canada in 1951 to start anew, leaving his past behind. Upon entering Canada, Seifert sought to conceal his true identity, failing to disclose his role as an SS prison guard, and claiming to have been born in Estonia. It would be another half century before his past came back to haunt him.
In 2000, a military tribunal convicted Seifert in absentia of 11 counts of murder, whilst a prison guard at a Bolzano Transit Camp in South Tyrol, Italy, between 1944 and 1945.
His crimes are said to have included gouging out a prisoner’s eyes, raping and then killing a pregnant woman, and letting a prisoner starve to death. He was arrested in Canada in 2002. After a lengthy legal battle ending in Canada’s Supreme Court, Seifert was extradited in 2008, returning to Italy to face his crimes. He died this week in Caserta, following an emergency operation resulting from gastric complications.