SWC Annual Report on Nazi War Criminals Reveals Dramatic Rise in New Investigations; Slams Ukraine and Others; & Praises US for Outstanding Success

May 4, 2005

SWC Annual Report on Nazi War Criminals Reveals Dramatic Rise of Almost 100% in New Investigations; Slams Ukraine and Others for Failure to Bring Nazis to Justice; Praises US for Outstanding Success During Past Year

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s fifth Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals for the period from April 1, 2004 – March 31, 2005 points to the continuing success of the United States in prosecuting Holocaust perpetrators during the past year and the surprising potential for future prosecutions as the number of new investigations initiated (in at least eleven countries) during the past twelve months reached the figure of six hundred and fifty-nine (an increase of 97% over the previous year) and the number of cases currently under investigation (in fifteen countries) reached at least one thousand two hundred and eighteen (an increase of almost 30% over the figure for the period from April 1, 2003 – March 31, 2004).

The report singles out Ukraine as the country which has done the least in recent years to bring Nazis to justice in comparison to the efforts which it should have invested to deal with former Holocaust perpetrators, and highlights the failure of Croatia and Austria to prosecute Milivoj Asner, the notorious police chief of Pozega, Croatia who played an important role in the persecution and murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, and who following his exposure by the Wiesenthal Center’s “Operation: Last Chance” project in June 2004 escaped to Klagenfurt Austria, where he presently resides.

The report praised the Nazi-hunting activities of the Office of Special Investigations of the US Justice Department as the most successful agency of its kind in the world, and awarded grades ranging from A (highest) to F to more than three dozen countries which were either the site of Nazi crimes or admitted Holocaust perpetrators after World War II.

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, thirty-two convictions against Holocaust perpetrators have been obtained, thirty-five new indictments have been filed, and hundreds 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, as well as the abject failures of countries like Ukraine, which has so many potential suspects but has not taken the necessary measures 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 (Estonia and many others).”

WORLDWIDE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF NAZI WAR CRIMINALS

April 1, 2004 – March 31, 2005

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.

From April 1, 2004 until March 31, 2005, five convictions of Nazi war criminals were obtained – all in the United States. Most of those convicted served as armed guards in concentration and death camps in Poland and Germany. The number of convictions is lower by two than the number achieved during the previous year. From January 1, 2001 until March 31, 2005, a total of thirty-two convictions of Nazi war criminals were obtained all over the world. Of these convictions, twenty-three were in the United States with the others convicted in Germany (3), Canada (3), Poland (1), France (1), and Lithuania (1).

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

4. During the period under review, new investigations were initiated in eleven countries against at least six hundred and fifty-nine suspected Holocaust perpetrators (an increase of 97% from the previous year), and at the moment there are ongoing investigations against more than one thousand two hundred and twelve suspected Nazi war criminals in fifteen countries (an increase of almost 30% from last year), with the largest number of cases being investigated in Poland (450), the United States (226), Austria (199), Canada (190), Latvia (58) and Germany(46).

5. This year we have chosen the United States as the country with the most outstanding record in bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.

At the same time we have singled out Ukraine for its total failure to address the issue of Holocaust perpetrators, and are highlighting the failure of Croatia and Austria to prosecute 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 point to 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 during the period under review, have obtained at least one conviction and/or filed an indictment accompanied by an extradition request (if the suspect was living elsewhere).

Category C: Minimal Success That Could Have Been Greater, Additional Steps Urgently Required

Those countries which have failed to obtain any convictions or register at least one indictment (with an extradition request) 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, or those countries in which the issue had no practical dimension during the period under review. In many cases these countries have stopped or reduced their efforts to deal with this issue long before they should have and should 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 residing within their borders.

A: USA
B: Denmark, Hungary

C: Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland

D: Austria, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Great Britain, New Zealand, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
F: Norway, Sweden, Syria, Ukraine
X: Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic,
France, Greece, Luxemburg, Paraguay, Russia, Spain, 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

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

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; facing deportation from USA; under investigation in Poland

Ladislav Niznansky - Germany
Commander of Nazi “Edelweiss” unit that murdered dozens of Jews and Slovak anti-Nazi partisans
Status: currently on trial in Germany

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 on framework of “Operation: Last Chance;” under investigation in Croatia and Austria

6. Jack Reimer – USA
Participated in murder of Polish Jews as officer of Trawniki SS-training camp
Status: denaturalized in USA; faces deportation

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

9. Algimantas Dailide – Germany
Arrested Jews murdered by Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators
Status: deported from USA; indicted by Lithuania, which has not yet sought his extradition

Harry Mannil – Venezuela
Arrested Jews and Communists executed by Nazis and Estonian collaborators
Status: under investigation in Estonia

 

For more information call 972-50-721-4156 or in Israel: 050-721-4156