The Simon Wiesenthal Center today appealed to the Polish Institute of National Memory to seek the extradition to Poland for trial of a female guard from the Majdanek death camp currently residing in Vienna, who was discovered by the Center in the framework of its “Operation: Last Chance” project. The guard, Erna Wallisch, served in the Ravensbruck and Majdanek concentration camps during the years 1941-1944, but last week in Vienna Austrian Justice Minister Karin Gastinger officially informed the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, that Wallisch’s crimes came under statute of limitations and she would therefore not be prosecuted.
In his meeting with Justice Minister Gastinger, Zuroff argued that Wallisch herself had admitted participation in the mass murder of inmates at Majdanek, and that a Polish survivor had testified that she was a sadist and had personally participated in selections, but the Austrian authorities claimed that they could take no legal action against her. Under these circumstances, Zuroff appealed to the Polish authorities based on Wallisch’s admission of guilt and the fact that she had committed crimes in Poland and against Polish citizens, the responsibility for which was not limited in Poland by any statute. According to Zuroff, “It is unthinkable that a person who was part of the mass murder of at least thousands of innocent civilians should be protected by Austrian law, and we therefore urge the Polish authorities to try to achieve justice in this case.
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