An investigation of about 50 suspects turned up enough evidence for state prosecutors to pursue charges of accessory to murder against 30 of them.
The cases are being sent to the responsible state prosecutors' offices in 11 of Germany's 16 states.
The 30 are spread across Germany, and another seven are living abroad. They are said to be aged up to 97.
It will be up to them to determine whether the elderly suspects - primarily men but also some women - are fit to stand trial and whether to bring official charges.
Kurt Schrimm, the head of the Ludwigsburg federal prosecutors' office, admitted: "The biggest enemy is time."
His office says it now plans to re-examine the actions of all former Nazi staff who served in extermination camps and special killing squads.
It says the work will be "extremely time-consuming" and will include research in archives kept in Russia, Belarus and Brazil.
Accessory to murder charges can be brought under the same legal theory that Munich prosecutors used to try former US car worker John Demjanjuk.
He died in a Bavarian nursing home last year while appealing against his 2011 conviction on charges he served as a Sobibor death camp guard.
Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in a specific killing.
Under the new legal argument, anyone who was involved in the operation of a death camp was an accessory to murder. Demjanjuk maintained he had been mistaken for someone else and never served as a camp guard.
Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, said the decision could mean even more cases will be opened against guards at the other five main death camps established by the Nazis.
He said: "We commend the [prosecutors] for seeking to apply the precedent as widely as possible.
"We hope they will be able to find as many perpetrators as possible. It's only a shame this kind of legal reasoning was not applied previously, because it would have led to many, many more cases of people who definitely deserved to be brought to justice."
Mr Schrimm said even guards who worked in a death camp's kitchens played a role in the facility's function as a site that existed for the purpose of mass murder.
However, he said the health of the suspects, and of possible witnesses, would make bringing them to trial difficult. He added: "I don't want to raise excessive expectations."
In July the Simon Wiesenthal Centre launched a poster campaign in Berlin seeking evidence on such fugitives from justice, with the slogan "Late - but not too late".
About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz camp complex alone between 1940 and 1945. More than 7000 SS personnel served at the camp but only a few hundred were ever prosecuted.