A last-ditch campaign in Germany to find Nazi war criminals is to include
rewards of up to $33,000.
On July 23, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is to
launch Operation Last Chance II featuring posters and the rewards for
information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nazi war
Most of the Nazis would be in their 90s today.
there should be scant sympathy for these elderly war criminals, Efraim Zuroff,
the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, told The Jerusalem
“These are the last people who deserve sympathy, because they had
absolutely no sympathy for their innocent victims,” Zuroff said.
look at [an elderly death camp guard] and see an old guy who might look frail;
look at these people and think of someone who at the height of their physical
power spent all of their energy and strength mass-murdering innocent men, women
The effort to capture and try alleged war criminals was
boosted with the 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk for his role in the murders
of nearly 30,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp in Poland. The conviction, which
was on appeal in Munich when Demjanjuk died in March 2012, opened the door to
murder prosecutions for anyone proven to have been a death camp guard. Since
Demjanjuk, several new cases have been opened.
Zuroff launched the first
round of Operation Last Chance in December 2011.
The renewed campaign is
backed by the German outdoor advertising company Wall AG, which is sponsoring
the placement of 2,000 posters in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg and
The posters are necessary, Zuroff explained, because it can be
difficult to identify former camp guards and members of mobile-killing
“Nowadays in Germany you have only one problem, that’s to find the
people,” he said. “In Germany there is something called Datenschutz, which means
data protection, which prevents us from being able” to check still extant lists
of guards against current population rolls.
Zuroff explained that, in the
wake of the Holocaust, Germany “instituted very stringent laws about personal
data. Personal data is not available to anybody, so even if I had a list of
Treblinka guards, which I don’t have at the moment, I couldn’t check the
population registry to see if those people are alive.”
JTA contributed to