May 21, 2013
No statute of limitation

Recently, Germany’s authorities issued official charges against Hans Lipschitz, a former guard in the Auschwitz Nazi camp. Lipschitz, a man of Lithuanian origin who is now 93, is charged with sending nearly 10,000 people to gas chambers in Auschwitz.

Before Hans Lipschitz’s arrest, his name was in list of the most wanted Nazi criminals. (In 2013, this list was published by the Wiesenthal Human Rights Center.) There is information that from 1941 till 1945, Hans Lipschitz served in the SS detachment that guarded Auschwitz.

Lipschitz himself does not deny that he really served there but claims that allegedly, he was only a cook in Auschwitz and knew about the cruelties against the prisoners only form his colleagues. However, investigators have found evidence that in reality, Lipschitz was a guard who segregated new prisoners who were brought to the camp. If a prisoner was found healthy enough to work, he or she was left alive. If not, he or she was sent to a gas chamber. In total, Lipschitz has to do with sending 9,515 people to death.

After the war the former prison warden emigrated to the USA and settled in Chicago. In 1982 he was expelled from the country because he concealed his SS past from the American authorities. Hans Lipschitz spent his last years in Germany where he was arrested in early May. The trial that has just started is of great historical significance, a Russian historian, Vladimir Simindei, Head of the Research Programmes at the Historical Memory Foundation, says.

"The significance of this trial is this: the principle of the irreversibility of punishment for a committed large-scale crime against humanity and involvement in genocide will be realized. And quite another matter is the fact that a serious suspicion is emerging that the German justice and investigation bodies were inattentive while searching for war criminals during all these years. As is known, there are people who were directly involved in the extermination of peoples during the Second World War."

According to experts who are searching for Nazi war criminals, hundreds of fascist hangmen are hiding from justice in different countries. Now they are leading a moderate life of European and American pensioners, and their neighbours are absolutely unaware of their bloody past. For example, 96-year-old Nikolai Rutchenko-Rutych lives in one of the Paris suburbs. Now he is a respectable writer but during the Great Patriotic War he was a collaborationist and took part in the executions of peaceful civilians in the Leningrad Region.

A 97-year-old Hungarian citizen, Ladislaus (Laslo) Csizsik Csatary lives in one of the quiet quarters of Budapest. Earlier he was sentenced to death in his absence for crimes committed during the Second World War. The former senior policeman who served in the guard of one of the biggest Nazi ghettoes was involved in sending more than 15,000 Jews to gas chambers.

Some time ago specialists from the Wiesenthal Centre discovered 92-year-old Vladimir Katryuk, a Ukrainian by nationality, in Canada. Now he is the breeder of bees on his farm, and in the war years he fought in the Ukrainian police battalion that was formed by the Germans. In March of 1943 he burned down the Belarusian Khatyn village.

Such crimes must not go, Deputy Chief of the International Human Rights Movement "World Without Nazism," Valery Engel says.

"There is no term of limitation for such things in whatever the country. Hence, the law must be observed, and all these people must be punished for crimes against humanity. Thus, international community is showing all those countries, which think differently, that Nazism is an absolute evil."

According to the report of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, 10 Nazi criminals were convicted, and 6 people were accused of complicity in the crimes from April 2011 to March 2012. The investigation of 1,138 cases concerning Nazi crimes continues.

In early April the German authorities spotted 50 prison wardens. Hans Lipschitz, who has been taken into custody now, was among them. The final accusation is expected to be brought against him in August at the earliest, and the court proceedings may start this autumn. The doctor who examined the defendant said that he could serve his prison term.