The Simon Wiesenthal Center today condemned the decision of Kurzemes Vards , a Latvian newspaper based in the port city of Liepaja to refuse to publish an ad in which the Center offered a $10,000 reward for information which would lead to the conviction and punishment of Nazi war criminals. Five other regional Latvian newspapers started running the ad this week in the framework of the Center’s “Operation: Last Chance,” which was launched in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia this past summer and which has already resulted in the opening of two official investigations of Holocaust-era crimes in Lithuania.
The ad bears the heading “This is about your Jewish neighbors…the ones who were murdered nearby” and presents the Center’s offer of a financial reward for the submission of information which will lead to the conviction and punishment of Nazi war criminals. It also shows a historic photograph of two Jewish women (one of whom is naked-seen from the back) being led away to be executed in Liepaja by a local Nazi collaborator.
In a letter sent today to the Latvian ambassador to Israel Janis Lovniks, the Center’s Israel director and chief Nazi-hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who directs “Operation: Last Chance,” condemned the decision of the Liepaja-based newspaper and urged the Latvian authorities to encourage its editor to change his mind regarding this matter. According to Zuroff:
“Such a decision only reinforces the sense that there are still those in Latvian society who are in deep denial regarding the fact that Latvians actively participated in the murder of Jews both in Latvia and in other countries during the Holocaust. I urge you to convey the Center’s condemnation of this policy to the pertinent Latvian authorities and hope that they will encourage Kurzemes Vards to change its decision in this regard.”
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