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