Germany, US Efforts Praised, Other European Countries Fail: SWC 2014 Report on Worldwide Investigation of Nazi War Criminals

Lack of political will, not suspect's age, and campaigns to distort the history of the Holocaust are biggest obstacles in making Holocaust perpetrators accountable for their crimes

April 30, 2014 - The Simon Wiesenthal Center initial findings of its thirteenth Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals.

Highlights include:

• The implementation of a new legal strategy by German judicial authorities has led cases to be directed to local prosecutors throughout Germany - initial legal steps have already been taken in more than a dozen cases.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff

• The 'Most Wanted' list also focuses on death camps and mobile killing squads - those who served there are the most likely to be prosecuted in the coming years

• 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

• Campaigns led by the Baltic countries to distort the history of the Holocaust and obtain official recognition that the crimes of the Communists are equal to those of the Nazis is another major obstacle

Wiesenthal Center Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the reports' author who coordinates the Center’s research on Nazi war criminals worldwide, noted that:

– Statistics in the report show that a significant measure of justice can still be achieved

– During the past 13 years, at least 101 convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least 91 new indictments have been filed, over 3,000 new investigations have been initiated

– Lack of political will, not the suspect's age, is the biggest obstacle to prosecutio

Despite the somewhat prevalent assumption that it is too late to bring Nazi murderers to justice, the figures prove otherwise - the SWC is trying to ensure that at least several of these criminals will to be brought to trial during the coming years.

"The success achieved by dedicated prosecutors, especially in the United States, Italy and Germany, should be a catalyst for governments all over the world to make a serious effort to maximize justice while it can still be obtained, said Dr. Zuroff.
The report's purpose is 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, especially in Germany, as well as the failures of countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Ukraine which have consistently failed to hold any Holocaust perpetrators accountable, primarily due to a lack of the requisite political will, as well as Sweden and Norway which in principle refuse to investigate, let alone prosecute, due to a statute of limitations,” concluded Dr. Zuroff.
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