But in doing so he has revealed himself to be the last known survivor of the SS killing squads which wiped out the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Now the battle is on by the publisher of the memoir, its author and Nazi-hunters to place Steidtmann at the epicentre of one of the worst crimes in history.
The story of Steidtmann, now a pensioner in East Germany, only surfaced because he happened to read a book by Lisl Urban. One of the so-called Sudeten Germans of Czechoslovakia, Mrs Urban worked as a secretary for the Gestapo in occupied Prague.
She described the occupied capital as a "hotbed" of frivolous sexual encounters, one of which she enjoyed with an SS man she nicknamed 'Eike' after her marriage broke down.
Eike was a police officer who, he claimed, was drafted into the fighting arm of the SS. He was sent to Prague from the eastern front for recuperation and in order to document his experiences in tracking down partisans.
"I adored him," said Mrs Urban. The two spent their time in 1942 rowing, dining out and staying in. She soon became pregnant.
However, in the autumn of that year Eike was posted to Warsaw to guard the Jewish ghetto, the Nazi way station for the extermination camps of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec in Poland.
Mrs Urban had hoped they would marry, but she said Eike became acquainted with a Polish woman and spurned her. Nowhere in her book does the former art teacher refer to Eike as Steidtmann, but he recognised himself in her prose.
"I may not be named, but my family and friends would recognise me," he said.
In court papers he alleges that the child Mrs Urban gave birth to is not his, but "a cuckoo's egg". But 'Eike' has outed himself in the process as the right-hand man of the destroyer of the Warsaw Ghetto, Juergen Stroop, who was tasked by Hitler with its extermination after the Jews rose up in January 1943.
Exonerated in a post-war trial in Germany as having had only "minimal involvement" in the crushing of the uprising, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in America is now pressing for him to be retried, claiming the post-war trial in Hamburg did not know of his full role in the crushing of the ghetto.
Joachim Jahns, the book publisher, is trawling through German military archives trying to find more details of Steidtmann's
"It is ironic that he tried to defend his honour as an SS man regarding this woman and her child. No-one would be any the wiser if he kept quiet. Now he could be pursued as a criminal until he dies," he said.
CASE IS A 'PRIORITY'
THE Simon Wiesenthal Centre - named after the legendary death camp survivor who became the world's foremost Nazi hunter - said it was making the Steidtmann case "a priority".
Dr Efraim Zuroff, its director, said: "It is unfortunate that something as serious as this has come out in the form of a book.
"While Mr Steidtmann and his mistress were, or were not, having an affair, tens of thousands of people were being murdered outside.
"What we should be asking ourselves is what went on in the ghetto. We are investigating the Steidtmann case as a priority and, if the evidence supports it, will be demanding a prosecution."
The full article contains 646 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 16 November 2007 11:56 PM