GERMAN prosecutors are investigating a suspected former member of Adolf Hitler’s mobile killing squads for involvement in Second World War massacres.

The case against 95-year-old Wilhelm Karl Friedrich Hoffmeister is part of an 11th-hour effort to bring elderly ex-Nazis to justice.

Hoffmeister, a former SS corporal, is suspected of serving with one of the Einsatzgruppen death squads in Ukraine responsible for killing nearly 34,000 people at Babi Yar, a ravine north west of Kiev, on September 29 and 30 1941.

Federal prosecutors in office in Ludwigsburg have established Hoffmeister was in Ukraine with the unit around that time, but have not linked him to any specific killings.

They do not have the authority to file criminal charges, but determined there was enough evidence to recommend that prosecutors based near where Hoffmeister lives in a retirement home pursue accessory to murder charges against him.

Three ex-soldiers are now being investigated under a new legal argument, recently upheld by top German courts, that someone can be convicted of accessory to mass murder, even if they cannot be linked to specific deaths.

The Einsatzgruppen death squads were the Nazis’ opening salvo in the Holocaust – SS units and police personnel who followed the regular army as it pushed into the Soviet Union in 1941, salughtering perceived racial or political enemies.

Estimates vary, but experts agree they were responsible for more than a million murders. The Nazis later established death camps, partially due to concerns about the psychological effects on the Einsatzgruppen troops.

“The death camps and concentration camps ... became the iconic images of the Holocaust, but it was the Einsatzgruppen that were maybe even a more stark manifestation of the Nazi ideology and the Final Solution,” said Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre who first reported Hoffmeister to prosecutors.

He added: “The number of active (Einsatzgruppen) participants is much greater than the number who actually carried out the murders in the death camps.”