BERLIN — German police on Thursday raided the homes of nine elderly men suspected of serving as SS guards at the Auschwitz death camp and arrested three of them on allegations of accessory to murder.
The arrests came five months after federal authorities said they would investigate former guards at Auschwitz and other Nazi-era death camps. Their effort was inspired by the precedent-setting trial of former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died in 2012 in a Bavarian nursing home while appealing his conviction on charges he served at the Sobibor camp.
‘‘This is a major step,’’ said Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem.
The three men arrested, aged 88, 92, and 94, all live in state of Baden Wuerttemberg in southwest Germany. A Stuttgart prosecutors’ spokeswoman said officials had yet to uncover enough evidence to merit the arrests of three other suspects aged 94, 91, and 90.