Wiesenthal Center Annual Report on Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals

April 23, 2006

Wiesenthal Center Annual Report on Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals Reveals Dramatic Rise of 320% in Convictions; Slams Austria and Others for Failure to Bring Nazis to Justice; Praises US and Italy for Successes During Past Year

Jerusalem - The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released the primary finding s of its sixth Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which covers the period from April 1, 2005 until March 31, 2006 and awarded grades ranging from A (highest) to F to evaluate the efforts and results achieved by more than three dozen countries which were either the site of Nazi crimes or admitted Holocaust perpetrators after World war II.

Among the report’s highlights are the following important developments:

1. A dramatic increase of 320% in the number of convictions of Nazi war criminals obtained during the past year;
2. The continued failure of Austria to take successful legal action against the Holocaust perpetrators living in that country;
3. The continued success of the United States in the investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals;
4. The opening of dozens of new investigations against Holocaust perpetrators and the existence of hundreds of ongoing cases currently under investigation.

The author of the report, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who coordinates the Center’s research on Nazi war criminals worldwide, noted that the statistics in the report clearly show that a significant measure of justice can still be achieved against Nazi war criminals. “Since January 2001, forty-eight convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, forty-three new indictments have been filed, and dozens of new investigations have been initiated. Despite the somewhat prevalent assumption that it is too late to bring Nazi murderers to justice, the figures clearly prove otherwise, and it is clear that numerous cases of such criminals will continue to come to trial during the coming years. While it is generally assumed that it is the age of the suspects that is the biggest obstacle to prosecution, in many cases it is the lack of political will, more than anything else, that has hindered the efforts to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice, along with the mistaken notion that it was impossible at this point to locate, identify, and convict these criminals. The success achieved by dedicated prosecution agencies, and especially by the US Office of Special Investigations, should be a catalyst for governments all over the world to make a serious effort to maximize justice while it can still be obtained.”

Zuroff went on to explain that the Report’s purpose was to focus public attention on the issue and thereby “encourage all the governments involved to maximize their efforts to ensure that as many as possible of the unprosecuted Holocaust perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes. In that respect, we seek to highlight both the positive results achieved by countries like the United States and Italy, as well as the abject failures of countries like Austria, which has numerous perpetrators but has consistently failed to bring them to justice, as well as Sweden and Norway which in principle refuse to investigate, let alone prosecute (due to a statue of limitations), and others who have either chosen to ignore the issue (Syria) or which have consistently failed to deal with it effectively primarily due to a lack of the requisite political will (Lithuania and many others).”
 
WORLDWIDE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF NAZI WAR CRIMINALS
April 1, 2005 – March 31, 2006
An Annual Status Report
By Dr. Efraim Zuroff
Executive Summary
1. During the period in question the investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals continued in fifteen countries, among them countries such as Germany, Austria and Poland in which the crimes of the Holocaust were committed and others like the United States and Canada which afforded a postwar haven to Holocaust perpetrators.

2. From April 1, 2005 until March 31, 2006, sixteen convictions of Nazi war criminals were obtained. Most of those convicted participated in atrocities against civilians in Italy or served as armed guards in concentration and death camps in Poland and Germany. The number of convictions is higher by eleven than the number achieved during the previous year. From January 1, 2001 until March 31, 2006, a total of forty-eight convictions of Nazi war criminals were obtained all over the world. Of these convictions, twenty-eight were in the United States with the others convicted in Italy (10) Germany (3), Canada (3), Poland (1), France (1), and Lithuania (2).

3. During the period under review, legal proceedings were initiated against at least eight Nazi war criminals in four countries - five in the United States, two in Italy and one in Poland. The number of indictments obtained this year is higher by three than the figure achieved during the previous year. From January 1, 2001, forty-three indictments have been submitted against Nazi war criminals, the majority in the United States.

4. This year we have chosen the United States and Italy as the countries which have archived the most outstanding record in bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.
    At the same time we have singled out Austria for its consistent failure to take successful legal action against Holocaust perpetrators, and especially its refusal to prosecute Majdanek guard Erna Wallisch and failure hereto to extradite Milivoj Asner who served as police chief of Pozega, Croatia during World War II and played an important role in the persecution and murder of hundreds of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies. After Asner was exposed living in Croatia by the Wiesenthal Center’s “Operation: Last Chance” project, he escaped to Klagenfurt, Austria where he currently resides. 
    We also want to highlight the recent decision by the Lithuanian judiciary to refuse to punish convicted Security Police operative Algimantas Dailide sentenced to five years imprisonment in Vilnius in March 2006, and the unwarranted decision of the Estonian prosecution not to indict Political Police operative Harry Mannil, as well as the continued in-principle refusal of Sweden and Norway to investigate Nazi war criminals due to existing statutes of limitation.


 INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION REPORT CARD

As part of this year’s annual status report, we have given grades ranging from A (highest) to F which reflects the Wiesenthal Center’s evaluation of the efforts and results achieved by various countries during the period under review. (Countries that failed to respond to the questionnaire and in which there is no indication of any activity to investigate and/or prosecute Nazi war criminals were included in category X.)

The grades granted are categorized as follows:
Category A: Highly Successful Investigation and Prosecution Program
Those countries, which have adopted a proactive stance on the issue, have taken all reasonable measures to identify the potential suspected Nazi war criminals in the country in order to maximize investigation and prosecution and have achieved notable results during the period under review.

Category B: Ongoing Investigation and Prosecution Program Which Has Achieved Practical Success
Those countries which have taken the necessary measures to enable the proper investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals and have registered at least one conviction and/or filed two indictments during the period under review.

Category C: Minimal Success That Could Have Been Greater, Additional Steps Urgently Required
Those countries which have failed to obtain any convictions or indictments during the period under review but have either advanced ongoing cases currently in litigation or have opened new investigations, which have serious potential for prosecution.

Category D: Insufficient and/or Unsuccessful Efforts
Those countries which have ostensibly made at least a minimal effort to investigate Nazi war criminals but which failed to achieve any practical results during the period under review. In many cases these countries have stopped or reduced their efforts to deal with this issue long before they could have and could achieve important results if they were to change their policy
 
Category F: Total Failure
Those countries, which refuse in principle to investigate, let alone prosecute, suspected Nazi war criminals despite clear-cut evidence that such individuals were residents within their borders.

A: USA

B: Croatia, Lithuania (prosecution), Italy

C: Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Poland

D: Bosnia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Holland, New Zealand, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

F: Austria, Estonia, Lithuania (judiciary), Norway, Romania, Sweden, Syria, Ukraine

X: Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Greece, Luxemburg, Paraguay, Russia, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia
 
TEN MOST PROMINENT CURRENT CASES OF NAZI WAR CRIMINALS

1. Alois Brunner – Syria
Key operative of Adolf Eichmann
Responsible for deportation of Jews from Austria (47,000) Greece (44,000) France (23,500) and Slovakia (14,000) to Nazi death camps
 Status – Syrian refusal to cooperate stymies prosecution efforts; convicted in absentia by France

2.  Dr. Aribert Heim - ?
Doctor in Mauthausen and Buchenwald concentration camps
Murdered hundreds of camp inmates by lethal injection
Status – disappeared in 1962 prior to planned prosecution; strong evidence that he is still alive

3. Ivan Demjanjuk – USA
Participated in mass murder of Jews in Sobibor death camp; also served in Majdanek death camp and Trawniki SS-training camp
Status – denaturalized in USA; ordered deported from USA; under investigation in Poland

4. Erna Wallisch – Austria
Guard at Majdanek death camp; admitted role in mass murder
Status – Austria refuses to prosecute due to statute of limitations

5. Milivoj Asner – Austria
Police chief of Slavonska Pozega, Croatia throughout World War II
active role in persecution and deportation to death of hundreds of Jews, Gypsies and Serbs
Status – discovered in 2004 in framework of “Operation: Last Chance;” indicted by Croatia which requested his extradition from Austria which has hereto refused to extradite

6.  Lajos Polgar – Australia
Hungarian Arrow Cross leader; headed movement’s Budapest headquarters
Status – currently under investigation in Hungary and Australia
7. Mikhail Gorshkow – Estonia
Participated in murder of Jews in Belarus
Status: denaturalized in USA, under investigation in Estonia

8. Karoly (Charles) Zentai – Australia
Participated in manhunts, persecution, and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944
 Status – discovered in 2004 by “Operation: Last Chance;” Hungary has issued an international arrest warrant against him and has asked for his extradition from Australia; Zentai is currently appealing his extradition to Hungary

9. Algimantas Dailide – Germany
Arrested Jews murdered by Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators
Status: deported from USA; convicted by Lithuania, which refused to implement sentence of imprisonment

10. Harry Mannil – Venezuela
Arrested Jews and Communists executed by Nazis and Estonian collaborators
Status: cleared by investigation in Estonia; barred from entry to US

 

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