Simon Wiesenthal Center Welcomes Today's Conviction of Auschwitz Guard in Germany

June 17, 2016


Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomed the conviction in a German court today of Auschwitz death camp guard Reinhold Hanning (pictured) and his sentence of five years in prison.

In a statement issued here by its chief Nazi-hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted that the verdict reflected the important role in the mass murder process played by individuals who did not necessarily have a high rank, but without whose active and often zealous participation, the annihilation operation at Auschwitz-Birkenau could never have succeeded in killing approximately 1,300,000 innocent persons, among them 1,100,000 Jews.

The Center also called upon the German authorities to expedite the current investigations of additional cases of death camp guards and those who served in the notorious Einsatzgruppen (special mobile killing units) which operated in Eastern Europe and murdered approximately 1,500,000 innocent victims.

According to Zuroff:
"This verdict is the third conviction obtained by German prosecutors in the wake of a dramatic change instituted several years ago in the prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals, which enables bringing to justice on charges of accessory to murder, any person who served in Nazi death camps or murder squads. This change, which far better reflects the reality of the Final Solution than the previous policy, which made the prosecution of Holocaust perpetrators almost impossible, was a landmark decision which was long overdue, and is a corrective for many years during which the will to maximize justice was clearly lacking.

"We urge the German authorities to do everything in their power to expedite the remaining cases. The pursuit of justice for Holocaust victims deserves a maximum effort while those responsible for the crimes of the Third Reich can still be held accountable."

For additional information please contact the Israel Office of the Wiesenthal Center: Tel: 972-2-563-1274 or Tel: 972-50-721-4156, join the Center on Facebook,, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).