April 14th 2015 07:24pm i24news.tv
Poll: Almost half of Israelis believe in possibility of another Holocaust

Simon Wiesenthal Center praises Germany's efforts to bring war criminals to justice.

Almost half of all Israelis believe in the possibility of another Holocaust taking place in the future, a higher percentage than what was reported last year, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Monday.

The poll, which was released by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day, asked Israelis whether they thought the Holocaust could reoccur, to which 46 percent said yes, up from 41 percent last year. The proportion with Holocaust survivors and their children was 47 percent.

The survey's results might be linked to rising anti-Semitism, with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reporting that there were 912 anti-Semitic incidents across the United States in the past year, representing a 21 percent increase over the year before.

Nazi-hunters the Simon Wiesenthal Center meanwhile praised Germany's efforts to bring war criminals to justice some seven decades after the atrocities of the Holocaust.

"The most important positive results achieved during the period under review (April 2014 to March 2015) were obtained in Germany," the group said in a statement Monday upon the release of its annual report.

The report highlighted the "implementation by the local judicial authorities of a legal strategy, which paves the way for the conviction of practically any person who served either in a Nazi death camp or in the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units)."

The Los Angeles-based group's Jerusalem director, Dr Efraim Zuroff, said it would continue efforts to try and sentence Nazi war criminals.

"During the past 14 years, at least 102 convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least 98 new indictments have been filed, and well over 3,500 new investigations have been initiated," he said in a statement.

"Despite the somewhat prevalent assumption that it is too late to bring Nazi murderers to justice, the figures clearly prove otherwise."

However, the Center criticized a "lack of political will to bring Nazi war criminals to justice and/or to punish them (which) continues to be the major obstacle to achieving justice, particularly in post-Communist Eastern Europe."

Almost seven decades after World War II, the hunt for Nazi war criminals continues and the Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes an annual list of those most wanted.

Top of that list now is Gerhard Sommer, a former SS lieutenant allegedly involved in the massacre of 560 civilians in August 1944, in Italy's Tuscany region.

Since 2002, he has been under investigation in Germany, but no criminal charges have so far been filed.

In October, the Israeli branch of the Center urged Germany to prosecute alleged members of Nazi death squads, giving it a list of 80 suspects.

It said the 76 men and four women whose names it provided to Germany's justice and interior ministries belonged to "mobile killing squads."

All of the suspects were born between 1920 and 1924, it said, making them "alive and healthy enough to face prosecution."

Zuroff says two percent of "Nazi criminals" are believed to be still alive and that half of them could still be tried.

Since the Nuremberg Trials in 1945 and 1946, about 106,000 German or Nazi soldiers have been accused of war crimes.

Some 13,000 have been found guilty and around half sentenced, according to the authority charged with investigating Nazi crimes.

Since 2011, German prosecutors have been searching for death camp guards and death squad members, who can "now be brought to trial without proof that they had committed a specific crime against a specific victim," the Center said in October.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is named after the Holocaust survivor who was perhaps the best-known Nazi hunter until his death in 2005.