Wiesenthal Center: Austria’s Decades-Long Failure to Prosecute Majdanek Guard Erna Wallisch Ultimately Allowed Her to Escape Justice Despite Recent Re-Opening of Her Case

Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed deep regret that Majdanek guard Erna Wallisch, until last Saturday a resident of Vienna, was spared prosecution for her Holocaust crimes in the wake of her death in a hospital in the Austrian capital. In a statement issued today in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted that Wallisch’s death had prevented her from facing prosecution, which recently became a strong possibility in the wake of the discovery by the Polish authorities of five women who had survived the Majdanek death camp and had witnessed crimes committed by Wallisch. (These testimonies led to the recent decision the Austrian authorities to reopen the Wallisch case.)

According to Zuroff:

“Erna Wallisch and her family can thank the decades-long failure of successive Austrian governments for the fact that she ultimately was never punished for her role at the Majdanek death camp and Ravenbruck concentration camp. The fact that a woman who admitted taking people to be gassed and guarding them so that they could not escape was never held accountable for her heinous crimes is a badge of shame for Austria and stark proof of the decades-long lack of political will in Vienna to bring Austrian Holocaust perpetrators to justice. Her death should serve as a reminder to all the governments which are dealing with the cases of Nazi war criminals that they had best expedite these prosecutions while justice can still be achieved.”

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