May 1, 2011
Wiesenthal Center Annual Report Points to Lack of Political Will and Holocaust Distortion as Major Obstacles to Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals; Praises Hungary for Indictment of Dr. Sandor Kepiro; Three New Names on Center’s “Most Wanted” List
Jerusalem - The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released the initial findings of its tenth Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which covers the period from April 1, 2010 until March 31, 2011 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. The lack of political will to bring Nazis war criminals to justice and/or to punish them continues to be the major obstacle to achieving justice, particularly in post-Communist Eastern Europe. The campaign led by the Baltic countries to distort the history of the Holocaust and obtain official recognition that the crimes of Communist are equal to those of the Nazis is another major obstacle to the prosecution of those responsible for the crimes of the Shoa.
2. The most important positive result in a specific case during the period under review has been Hungary’s decision to bring to justice Dr. Sandor Kepiro, one of the officers who organized the mass murder of at least 1,250 of civilians in Novi Sad, Serbia on January 23, 1942. Kepiro, who in 1944 in Hungary was convicted but never punished for the crime, escaped to Argentina after the war but was exposed by the Wiesenthal Center living in Budapest in the summer of 2006. He was indicted for war crimes on February 14, 2011 and his trial will begin this week on Thursday, May 5 in Budapest.
3. Three new names appear on this year’s list of “Most Wanted” Nazi war criminals, - Gerhard Sommer (Germany), Adam Nagorny (Germany) and Ivan Kalymon (USA) - replacing Samuel Kunz (#3), Adolf Storms (#4), and Peter Egner(#8), all of whom died during the period under review.
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. “During the past decade, at least eighty-nine convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least seventy-nine new indictments have been filed, and close to three thousand 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 at least several such criminals will to be brought 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, especially in the United States, 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 during the period under review by countries such as the United States and Hungary, as well as the failures of countries like Austria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Ukraine which have consistently failed to hold any Holocaust perpetrators accountable, as well as Sweden and Norway which in principle refuses 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.”
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Also please visit our websites: www.operationlastchance.org and www.wiesenthal.com
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 reflect the Wiesenthal Center’s evaluation of the efforts and results achieved by various countries during the period under review.
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 one indictment, or submitted an extradition request 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 E: No known suspects
Those countries in which there are no known suspects and no practical steps have been taken to uncover new cases.
Category F-1: Failure in principle
Those countries which refuse in principle to investigate, let alone prosecute, suspected Nazi war criminals because of legal (statute of limitation) or ideological restrictions.
Category F-2: Failure in practice
Those countries in which there are no legal obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals, but whose efforts (or lack thereof) have resulted in complete failure during the period under review, primarily due to the absence of political will to proceed and/or a lack of the requisite resources and/or expertise.
Category X: Failure to submit pertinent data
Those countries which did not respond to the questionnaire, but clearly did not take any action whatsoever to investigate suspected Nazi war criminals during the period under review.
A: United States
B:, Germany, Hungary, Italy,* Serbia
C: Australia, Netherlands, Poland
D: Croatia*, Denmark, Great Britain
E: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Finland, Greece, New Zealand, Romania, Slovenia
F-1: Norway, Sweden, Syria
F-2: Austria, Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine
X: Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Luxemburg, Paraguay, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Uruguay
* tentative grade pending receipt of official statistics
MOST WANTED NAZI WAR CRIMINALS
As of April 1, 2011
*A. 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 – living in Syria for decades; Syrian refusal to cooperate stymies prosecution
efforts; convicted in absentia by France
Alois Brunner is the most important unpunished Nazi war criminal who may still be
alive, but the likelihood that he is already decreased increases with each passing year.
Born in 1912 and last seen in 2001, the chances of his being alive are relatively slim,
but until conclusive evidence of his demise is obtained, he should still be mentioned
on any Most Wanted List of Holocaust perpetrators.
*B. Dr. Aribert Heim - ?
Doctor in Sachsenhausen (1940), Buchenwald (1941) and Mauthausen (1941) concentration camps
Murdered dozens of camp inmates by lethal injection in Mauthausen
Status – disappeared in 1962 prior to planned prosecution; wanted in Germany and
New evidence revealed in February 2009 suggests that he may have died in Cairo in
1992, but questions regarding these findings and the fact that there is no corpse to examine, raise doubts as to the veracity of this information. During the past year,
Heim was not found, nor was his death confirmed.
1. Dr. Sandor Kepiro - Hungary
Hungarian gendarmerie officer; participated in organizing the mass murder of at least 1,250 civilians in Novi Sad, Serbia on January 23, 1942
Status: discovered in 2006 in framework of “Operation: Last Chance;” was originally convicted but never punished in Hungary in 1944 and apparently in absentia in 1946; Hungary refused to implement his original sentence but opened a new criminal investigation against him which yielded an indictment against him for war crimes on February 14, 2011. His trial is scheduled to open in Budapest on May 5, 2011.
2. Milivoj Ašner – Austria
Police chief of Slavonska Požega, Croatia
Active role in persecution and deportation to death of hundreds of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies
Status: discovered in 2004 in framework of “Operation: Last Chance;” indicted by Croatia which in 2005 requested his extradition from Austria which initially refused the request because he ostensibly held Austrian citizenship; when it emerged that he had lost his Austrian citizenship, his extradition was refused on medical grounds. Media interviews with Ašner raised serious doubts about the decision of the Austrian doctors that he was medically unfit to stand trial and prompted a request by the Wiesenthal Center that he be examined by a foreign expert. In April 2009 a German expert confirmed the original assessment that he was suffering from dementia, but subsequent media interviews by Ašner again cast doubt on the veracity of the evaluation.
3. Klaas Carl Faber - Germany
Volunteered for Dutch SS and served in SD as member of Sonderkommando Feldmeijer execution squad which executed members of Dutch resistance, Nazi opponents and those hiding Jews; also alleged to have served in a firing squad at the Westerbork transit camp from which Dutch Jews were deported to death camps.
Status: Sentenced to death in 1947 by a Dutch court for the murder of at least 11 people, his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, but he escaped from jail in 1952 to Germany, where he was granted Germany citizenship which protected him from extradition back to the Netherlands.
All efforts to have him prosecuted in Germany, have hereto been unsuccessful, although the German authorities have indicated a willingness to reexamine the case.
On November 25, 2010, the Dutch government issued a European arrest warrant for the incarceration of Faber, and the Bavarian judicial authorities are scheduled to make a decision in this case within the next few weeks.
4. Gerhard Sommer-Germany
Former SS-Untersturmfuehrer in the 16th Panzergrenadier Division Reichsfuehrer-SS; participated in the massacre of 560 civilians in the Italian village of Sant' Anna di Stazzema
Status: On June 25, 2005, Sommer was convicted in absentia by a military court in La Spezia, Italy for committing "murder with special cruelty" in Sant' Anna di Stazzema. Since 2002, he has been under investigation in Germany, but no criminal charges have yet been brought against him.
5. Adam Nagorny-Germany
Served as an SS guard at the Trawniki (Poland) SS training camp; served as an armed SS guard at the Treblinka I concentration camp whose prisoners were used to build the nearby Treblinka death camp; alleged to have shot inmates of the camp
Status: An official investigation was initiated by prosecutors in Munich in early 2011, in the wake of the discovery of of witness statements that Nagorny had participated in executions of prisoners in Treblinka I.
6. Karoly (Charles) Zentai – Australia
Participated in manhunts, persecution, and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944
Status: discovered in 2004 in the framework of “Operation: Last Chance;” Hungary issued an international arrest warrant against him and asked for his extradition from Australia in 2005; Zentai appealed against his extradition and on July 2, 2010 a court in Perth ruled in his favor. Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Conner, acting on behalf of the Hungarian government, appealed the decision and the case will be decided within the coming months.
7. Soeren Kam - Germany
Volunteered for SS-Viking Division, where he served as an officer; participated in the murder of Danish anti-Nazi newspaper editor Carl Henrik Clemmensen.
Status: In 1999 Denmark requested the extradition of Kam, which Germany refused due to his German citizenship. Subsequent extradition request was refused in early 2007 on the grounds that Clemmensen’s death was not murder but manslaughter, which was under a statue of limitation. Efforts continue to bring Kam to justice either in Germany or in Denmark.
8. Ivan (John) Kalymon– United States
Served in Nazi-controlled Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Lvov (then German-occupied Poland, today Ukraine) during the years 1941-1944, during which time he participated in the murder, roundups and deportation of Jews living in the Lvov Ghetto.
Status: On January 31, 2011, Kalymon was ordered deported from the United States to Germany, Ukraine, Poland, or any country willing to admit him, for concealing his wartime service with forces in collaboration with Nazi Germany and his participation violent acts of persecution.
9. Algimantas Dailide – Germany
Served in the Vilnius District of the Saugumas (Lithuanian Security Police); arrested Jews and Poles executed by the Nazis and local Lithuanian collaborators.
Status: His American citizenship was revoked in 1997 and he was deported from the United States in 2004 for concealing his wartime activities with the Saugumas. In 2006, he was convicted by a Lithuanian court for arresting 12 Jews trying to escape from the Vilnius Ghetto (and 2 Poles), who were subsequently executed by the Nazis, and was sentenced to five years imprisonment. The judges, however, refused to implement his sentence because he was old and was caring for his ill wife and “did not pose a danger to society.” In July 2008, in response to an appeal against the refusal to implement his sentence, Dailde was ruled medically unfit to be punished without being personally examined by the doctors who provided the expertise.
10. Mikhail Gorshkow – Estonia
Served as interpreter for the Gestapo in Belarus and is alleged to have participated in the mass murder of Jews in Slutzk.
Status: Fled from the United States to Estonia before he was denaturalized for concealing his wartime service with the Nazis; has been under investigation in Estonia since his arrival several years ago, but no legal action has ever been taken against him.