Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released the full text of its sixth Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which covers the period from April 1, 2006 until March 31, 2007 and awarded grades ranging from A (highest) to F to evaluate the efforts and results achieved by more than three dozen countries which were either the site of Nazi crimes or admitted Holocaust perpetrators after World War II.
Among the report’s highlights are the following important developments:
- For the second year in a row, Estonia has received a failing grade [F], which reflects the ongoing failure of the Estonian judicial authorities to take successful legal action against Estonian Nazi war criminal Michael Gorshkow.
- For the second consecutive year, there was an increase in the number of Nazi war criminals convicted during the period under review. (This past year the number rose from 16 to 21.)
- The continued and consistent success of the American “Office of Special Investigations” to denaturalize and deport Nazi war criminals from the United States.
- The emergence of Italy as the second most successful country (after the United States) in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals. For the second year in a row, the Italians have succeeded in convicting at least ten Nazi war criminals.
- The abysmal failure of countries such as Austria, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Canada, which have conducted dozens, and in certain cases like Germany, Austria and Poland, even higher numbers of investigations of Holocaust perpetrators, to achieve any progress whatsoever during the period under review.
“Year after year, the investigation in Estonia of Gestapo operative Michael Gorshkow, which began in 2003 continues, with no prosecution in sight,” said the author of the report, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who coordinates the Center’s research on Nazi war criminals worldwide. “The failure to prosecute Gorshkow, whose active participation in Holocaust crimes in Slutzk, Belarus was revealed during his trial in the United States is a reflection of the lack of political will in Tallin to bring local Holocaust perpetrators to justice. Had Gorshkow been a Communist criminal, he would have been behind bars long ago.”
Zuroff noted that the statistics in the report clearly show that a significant measure of justice can still be achieved against Nazi war criminals. “Since January 2001, sixty-nine convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least forty-four new indictments have been filed, and dozens of new investigations have been initiated. Despite the somewhat prevalent assumption that it is too late to bring Nazi murderers to justice, the figures clearly prove otherwise, and it is clear that numerous cases of such criminals will continue to come to trial during the coming years. While it is generally assumed that it is the age of the suspects that is the biggest obstacle to prosecution, in many cases it is the lack of political will, more than anything else, that has hindered the efforts to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice, along with the mistaken notion that it was impossible at this point to locate, identify, and convict these criminals. The success achieved by dedicated prosecution agencies, and especially by the US Office of Special Investigations, should be a catalyst for governments all over the world to make a serious effort to maximize justice while it can still be obtained.”
Zuroff explained that the Report’s purpose was to focus public attention on the issue and thereby “encourage all the governments involved to maximize their efforts to ensure that as many as possible of the unprosecuted Holocaust perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes. In that respect, we seek to highlight both the positive results achieved by countries like the United States and Italy, as well as the abject failures of countries like Austria, Germany, Poland and others which have numerous perpetrators but have failed to bring any of them to justice during the period under review, as well as Sweden and Norway which in principle refuse to investigate, let alone prosecute (due to a statue of limitations), and others who have either chosen to ignore the issue (Syria) or which have consistently failed to deal with it effectively primarily due to a lack of the requisite political will (Lithuania, Latvia and many others).”
Interested journalists can obtain a hard copy of the 2007 report by writing to
INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION REPORT CARD
As part of this year’s annual status report, we have given grades ranging from A (highest) to F which reflect the Wiesenthal Center’s evaluation of the efforts and results achieved by various countries during the period under review.
The grades granted are categorized as follows:
Category A: Highly Successful Investigation and Prosecution Program
Those countries, which have adopted a proactive stance on the issue, have taken all reasonable measures to identify the potential suspected Nazi war criminals in the country in order to maximize investigation and prosecution and have achieved notable results during the period under review.
Category B: Ongoing Investigation and Prosecution Program Which Has Achieved Practical Success
Those countries which have taken the necessary measures to enable the proper investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals and have registered at least one conviction and/or filed two indictments during the period under review.
Category C: Minimal Success That Could Have Been Greater, Additional Steps Urgently Required
Those countries which have failed to obtain any convictions or indictments during the period under review but have either advanced ongoing cases currently in litigation or have opened new investigations, which have serious potential for prosecution.
Category D: Insufficient and/or Unsuccessful Efforts
Those countries which have ostensibly made at least a minimal effort to investigate Nazi war criminals but which failed to achieve any practical results during the period under review. In many cases these countries have stopped or reduced their efforts to deal with this issue long before they could have and could achieve important results if they were to change their policy.
Category E: No known suspects
Those countries in which there are no known suspects and no practical steps have been taken to uncover new cases.
Category F-1: Failure in principle
Those countries which refuse in principle to investigate, let alone prosecute, suspected Nazi war criminals because of legal (statute of limitation) or ideological restrictions.
Category F-2: Failure in practice
Those countries in which there are no legal obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals, but whose efforts (or lack thereof) have resulted in complete failure during the period under review, primarily due to the absence of political will to proceed and/or a lack of the requisite resources and/or expertise.
Category X: Failure to submit pertinent data
Those countries which did not respond to the questionnaire, but clearly did not take any action whatsoever to investigate suspected Nazi war criminals during the period under review.
A: United States
C: Denmark, Hungary, Serbia
D: France, Romania
E: Bosnia, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Uruguay
F-1: Norway, Sweden, Syria
F-2: Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine
X: Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Greece, Luxemburg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain, Venezuela.
MOST WANTED NAZI WAR CRIMINALS
As of April 1, 2007
- Alois Brunner – Syria
Key operative of Adolf Eichmann
Responsible for deportation of Jews from Austria (47,000), Greece (44,000), France (23,500), and Slovakia (14,000) to Nazi death camps
Status – living in Syria for decades; Syrian refusal to cooperate stymies prosecution efforts; convicted in absentia by France
- Dr. Aribert Heim – ?
Doctor in Sachsenhausen (1940), Buchenwald (1941) and Mauthausen (1941) concentration camps
Murdered hundreds of camp inmates by lethal injection in Mauthausen
Status – disappeared in 1962 prior to planned prosecution; current whereabouts unknown but strong evidence that he is still alive
- Ivan Demjanjuk – USA
Participated in mass murder of Jews in Sobibor death camp; also served in Majdanek death camp and Trawniki SS-training camp
Status – denaturalized in USA; ordered deported from USA; under investigation in Poland
- Milivoj Ašner – Austria
Police chief of Slavonska Požega, Croatia
Active role in persecution and deportation to death of hundreds of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies
Status – discovered in 2004 in framework of “Operation: Last Chance;” indicted by Croatia which requested his extradition from Austria which has hereto refused to extradite him
- Dr. Sandor Kepiro – Hungary
Hungarian gendarmerie officer; participated in mass murder of over 1,200 civilians in Novi Sad, Serbia
Status – discovered in 2006 in framework of “Operation: Last Chance;” was originally convicted but never punished in Hungary in 1944 and apparently in absentia in 1946; Hungary recently refused to implement his original sentence but has opened a new criminal investigation against him
- Mikhail Gorshkow – Estonia
Participated in murder of Jews in Belarus
Status: denaturalized in USA, under investigation in Estonia
- Erna Wallisch – Austria
Guard at Majdanek death camp; admitted role in mass murder
Status – Austria refuses to prosecute due to statute of limitations; under investigation in Poland
- Soeren Kam – Germany
Participated in the murder of anti-nazi Danish newspaper editor Carl Henrik Clemmensen; stole the population registry of the Danish Jewish ommunity to facilitate the roundup and subsequent deportation of Danish Jews to Nazi concentration camps, where dozens were murdered.
Status – Kam was indicted in Denmark for the murder of Clemmensen, but a German court refused to approve his extradition to stand trial in Copenhagen. The Danish judicial authorities have recently launched an investigation of his role in the deportation of the Jews at the request of the Wiesenthal Center.
- Karoly (Charles) Zentai – Australia
Participated in manhunts, persecution, and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944
Status – discovered in 2004 by “Operation: Last Chance;” Hungary has issued an international arrest warrant against him and has asked for his extradition from Australia; Zentai is currently appealing his extradition to Hungary
10a. Algimantas Dailide – Germany
Arrested Jews murdered by Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators
Status: deported from USA; convicted by Lithuania, which has hereto refused to implement his sentence of imprisonment
10b. Harry Mannil – Venezuela
Arrested Jews and Communists executed by Nazis and Estonian collaborators
Status: cleared by investigation in Estonia; barred from entry to US
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