Updates on the Center's "Operation: Last Chance" Campaign To Bring Nazi War CriminalsTo Justice

March 2, 2005

Wiesenthal Center Submits Names of Four Suspected Nazi War Criminals Discovered in "Operation: Last Chance" to Romanian Attorney-General

The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today that it had submitted the names of four suspected Romanian Nazi war criminals which were discovered in the framework of its "Operation: Last Chance" project to Attorney-General Dr. Ilie Botos with a request that the Romanian authorities carry out investigations of these cases with a view to possible prosecution. The suspects are alleged to have actively participated in the persecution and murder of Jews in several places in Romania among them Iasi, Dorohoi and Bucharest.

"Operation: Last Chance" was launched in Romania in September 2003. During the past year and a half, approximately one hundred persons called the project's hotline in Bucharest (021-322-9554) and concrete information was received regarding fifteen specific suspects.

According to the Center's chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who also coordinates "Operation: Last Chance," since Romania became a democracy more than fifteen years ago, not a single Romanian resident has ever been prosecuted for Nazi war crimes, which makes this list of suspects of unique importance. "Despite the participation of numerous Romanians in the murder of Jews both in Romania and outside her borders, the authorities of democratic Romania have hereto never initiated any attempt to find and bring to justice unprosecuted Holocaust perpetrators. That is why "Operation: Last Chance" was launched in Romania and the submission of this list clearly indicates the need for more extensive investigations by the government," said Zuroff.

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156 / www.operationlastchance.org

March 3, 2005

Wiesenthal Center Protests Whitewash by Riga Newspaper of Holocaust Crimes of Latvian Death Squad Commander

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today protested the whitewash by the Latvian daily Latvijas Avize of the Holocaust crimes of Herberts Cukurs, the deputy commandant of the infamous Latvian death squad "Arajs Kommando," which murdered at least 30,000 Jews in Latvia and Belarus during the Holocaust.

In an op-ed published in today's Baltic Times, the Center's chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, presented extensive testimony concerning the personal participation of Cukurs in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust and warned that such attempts to rewrite history were a product of the failure of the Latvian authorities to prosecute Holocaust perpetrators and the reluctance of Latvian leaders to acknowledge the complicity of local Nazi collaborators in the killing of Jews during World War II. Zuroff's op-ed was written in response to an article published late last week by Viesturs Sprude in the right-wing Latvian daily Latvijas Avize to mark the fortieth anniversary of the liquidation in Uruguay of Cukurs by Israeli agents. Sprude claimed that there was no evidence of Cukurs' "direct involvement in the executions…or that he robbed the property of the murdered Jews."

In October 2004, the National Power Union, an extremist nationalist party, published and circulated envelopes with the picture of Cukurs, who was a prewar hero in Latvia for his feats as an aviator.

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156

March 3, 2005

Wiesenthal Center Welcomes Decision by Hungarian Judge to Issue International Arrest Warrant for "Operation: Last Chance" Suspect Charles Zentai

The Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomed the issue today by the Hungarian authorities of an international arrest warrant for Charles Zentai, who was identified in the framework of the Center's "Operation: Last Chance" project as an escaped Nazi war criminal who actively participated in the persecution and murder of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.

In a statement issued in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center expressed its satisfaction with the latest development in the case, which it had initiated following receipt in the framework of "Operation: Last Chance" of evidence regarding Zentai's involvement in Holocaust crimes.

"Hungary has taken the requisite first step today toward bringing this suspected murderer to justice and we are hopeful that he will finally be held accountable for his crimes, preferably in Hungary where they were committed. We congratulate the Hungarian judicial authorities and military prosecutor for their prompt action to date, and urge them to take whatever steps are necessary to expedite the process of extradition and prosecution. The fact that Zentai has hereto eluded justice for so many years, in no way diminishes his culpability and should not be a factor in this case," said Zuroff. 

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156 / www.operationlastchance.org