The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed its shock and outrage in the wake of a decision by an Estonian advertising agency to refuse to publish ads for the Center’s “Operation: Last Chance,” a special project which offers financial rewards of $10,000 for information which will lead to the prosecution and punishment of Nazi war criminals in the Baltics. The ads were rejected by the Estonian advertising agency “Media House” on the grounds that the proposed text which said that “During the Holocaust Estonians murdered Jews in Estonia and in other countries” was inflammatory and that according to the Estonian Security Police Board since no Estonians had ever been convicted for the murder of Jews outside Estonia and the Board did not possess “convincing evidence” of such crimes, the assertion by the Center may be in violation of the Estonian Constitution.
In a statement issued today in Jerusalem, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who directs ”Operation: Last Chance” called the decision “totally outrageous,” and “a sad reflection on the inability of far too many Estonians to accept the sad reality of the complicity of some of their nationals in the crimes of the Holocaust.” Zuroff added that he viewed the position adopted by the Security Police Board as particularly problematic in view of the fact that it was the agency entrusted with the investigation and prosecution of Estonian Nazi war criminals. “The Security Police Board has once again shown very clearly that they consider their primary task to be the preservation of the good name of the Estonian people rather than the prosecution of local Nazi war criminals. Given the fact that the International Historians Commission established by President Lennart Meri has confirmed that Estonian police participated in the murder of Jews in Belarus in 1942 and that the Center has found additional evidence to confirm that fact, we stand 100% behind the assertion in the ad. Under the current circumstances, one can only wonder whether an Estonian Nazi war criminal can actually ever be convicted-regardless of the severity of his crimes-in Estonia,” said Zuroff.
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