Campaign launched to bring remaining Nazi war criminals to justice

Simon Wiesenthal Center launches campaign seeking to bring Nazis to justice before they die, promising rewards of up to $33,000.

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July 18, 2013 23:39
2 minute read.
Suspected Nazi war criminal Csatary

Suspected war criminal Csatary 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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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 criminals.

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Most of the Nazis would be in their 90s today.

However, there should be scant sympathy for these elderly war criminals, Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, told The Jerusalem Post.

“These are the last people who deserve sympathy, because they had absolutely no sympathy for their innocent victims,” Zuroff said.

“Don’t 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 and children.”

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 Cologne.

The posters are necessary, Zuroff explained, because it can be difficult to identify former camp guards and members of mobile-killing units.

“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 this report.

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