13.03.2003 The Baltic Times, #348

Newspaper refuses to run Nazi-hunting ad


By J. Michael Lyons

A newspaper in the Latvian port city of Liepaja has refused to publish an advertisement offering $10,000 for information about Nazi war criminals, saying cash rewards were an inappropriate way to hunt down Holocaust perpetrators.

Kurzemes Vards is the only Latvian newspaper that has refused to run the ad, which is part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's "Operation Last Chance" - a last-ditch effort to track down Nazi war criminals in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The campaign included ads in papers in Riga in January and Vilnius in December. It is now focusing on regional newspapers in cities where Jews were killed during the 1941-45 Nazi occupation.

Four other regional newspapers in Latvian cities - in Ventspils, Daugavpils, Valmiera and Jelgava - ran the ads earlier this week.

"The Holocaust was too horrifying to try to find those who are to blame using such methods," Kurzemes Vards editor Andzils Remess told The Baltic Times. "There are proper investigative
offices for this purpose."

The ad features two nude Jewish women - their hands bound with rope - being led by a soldier with a white arm band that identified Latvian members of Nazi killing squads to a sand pit to be

"This is about your Jewish neighbors ... the ones who were murdered," the boldface text above the ad photo reads.

It also includes a line offering the reward and includes the telephone number for the Latvian Prosecutor's Office.

Remess said he did not object to the content of the ad and would consider publishing it if the text offering the reward were removed.

He said the newspaper often runs articles and editorials about the killing of Jews in Liepaja.

The photograph is one of several - taken by death squads in Liepaja documenting the killings - that were copied by a Holocaust survivor from the city and smuggled out of Latvia.

Historians estimate that some 7,000 of the 80,000 Jews killed in Latvia were shot in Liepaja - most in 1941. About 3,000 were believed to be killed during a two-day period on Dec. 13 -
14, 1941.

Many were marched to nearby beaches, stripped, shot and buried in mass graves among the sand dunes.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, said the ads have worked so far and have led to two investigations being opened by prosecutors in Lithuania.

"What's happening elsewhere disproves his (Remess') argument that it doesn't work," he said.

Zuroff has criticized the Baltics in the past for failing to prosecute any Nazi war criminals since declaring independence in 1991.

Latvian prosecutors have countered that evidence against the few surviving perpetrators has been too flimsy to convict them.