Since its establishment in Jerusalem in 1986, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office has made the efforts to help bring Nazi war criminals to justice the primary focus of its activities. Founded by Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who also coordinates the Center’s Nazi war crimes research worldwide, the office has played an important role in tracking down and exposing escaped Nazi war criminals and in helping to facilitate their prosecution. During the past nineteen years, the office has carried out innovative research which has helped identify over 2,800 suspected Nazi war criminals, many of whom escaped to Western democracies after World War II. It also played an important role in helping to convince countries of refuge such as Canada (in 1987), Australia (in 1989), and Great Britain (in 1991) to pass special legislation to enable the prosecution of Nazi war criminals residing in those countries.
Following the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism, the Israel office has been particularly active in Eastern Europe, and especially in the Baltics, in helping to identify Holocaust perpetrators and convince often-reluctant governments to bring local Nazi war criminals to justice. It has also exposed the illegal rehabilitations granted in independent Lithuania and Latvia to dozens of individuals convicted by Soviet courts who had actively participated in the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
During the past decade these efforts have intensified and have been expanded to include the fight for historical truth in many of the countries in which the Holocaust took place, as well as the struggle against contemporary anti-Semitism.
As an integral part of these efforts, the Israel office has coordinated and implemented the Center’s “Operation: Last Chance” project together with the “Targum Shlishi Foundation” in nine countries: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Germany
Director: Dr. Efraim Zuroff
1 Mendele St., Jerusalem 9214702
Email: swcjerus[email protected]