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April 30, 2008

Wiesenthal Center Annual Report Notes Dramatic Increase in Number of New Investigations:
Harshly Criticizes Absence of Political Will to Prosecute Suspects in Post-Communist Eastern Europe;
Praises Continued Successes in US and Italy

Jerusalem - The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released the primary findings of its seventh Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which covers the period from April 1, 2007 until March 31, 2008 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. For the first time in almost a decade, a Nazi war criminal (ethnic German Michael Seifert who served at the Bolzano concentration camp) was extradited from the country to which he emigrated after World War II (Canada) to the country where he committed his crimes and had been convicted in absentia (Italy).

2. In contrast to the past two years during which the number of “convictions” of Nazi war criminals (including denaturalizations and deportations) increased dramatically from five to twenty-one, only seven Nazis were “convicted” during the period under review. The main reason for the decline was the reduction in the number of convictions in Italy which dropped from fifteen last year to one this year.

3. Among the most important positive developments was the significant increase in the number of new investigations initiated during he period under review which rose from sixty-three last year to over two hundred.

4. The most disappointing result in a specific case during the period under review has been Hungary’s failure hereto to bring to justice Dr. Sandor Kepiro, one of the officers who carried out the mass murder of hundreds of civilians in Novi Sad, Serbia on January 23, 1942 who was convicted but never punished for the crime and who was exposed by the Wiesenthal Center living in Budapest in the summer of 2006.

5. The continued and consistent success of the American “Office of Special Investigations” to take successful legal action against Holocaust perpetrators and the ongoing failure of most post-Communist governments to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.

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, seventy-six convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least forty-eight 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 of such criminals will continue 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, 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 and Italy, as well as the abject failures of countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Ukraine which have continuously failed to bring any Holocaust perpetrators to justice, as well as Sweden 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.”


For more information call our office: 972-2-563-1273 or in Israel: 02-563-1273
Or: 972-50-721-4156   or in Israel: 050-721-4156

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 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: Canada, Germany, Italy

C: Austria, Poland, Serbia

D: Denmark, Netherlands

E: Finland, Greece, New Zealand, Norway

F-1: Sweden, Syria

F-2: Australia, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine

X: Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Luxemburg, Paraguay, Romania,  Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela
 
MOST WANTED NAZI WAR CRIMINALS
As of April 1, 2008

*.   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 deceased 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.

 

1.  Dr. Aribert Heim - ?
Doctor in Sachsenhausen (1940), Buchenwald (1941) and Mauthausen (1941) concentration camps
Murdered hundreds of camp inmates by lethal injection in Mauthausen
Status – disappeared in 1962 prior to planned prosecution; current whereabouts unknown but strong evidence that he is still alive

2.  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; ordered deported from USA; under investigation in Poland
 
3.  Dr. Sandor Kepiro - Hungary
Hungarian gendarmerie officer; participated in mass murder of over 1,200 civilians in Novi Sad, Serbia
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 has opened a new criminal investigation against him which has not yet been completed more than a year after its initiation.

4.  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.

5.  Soeren Kam - Germany
 Participated in the murder of anti-Nazi Danish newspaper editor Carl Henrik Clemmensen; stole the population registry of the Danish Jewish Community to facilitate the roundup and subsequent deportation of Danish Jews to Nazi concentration camps, where dozens were murdered.
Status – Kam was indicted in Denmark for the murder of Clemmensen, but a German court refused to approve his extradition to stand trial in Copenhagen. The Danish judicial authorities are conducting an investigation of his role in the deportation of the Jews at the request of the Wiesenthal Center.

6.  Heinrich Boere – Germany
Murdered three Dutch civilians as a member of the Silbertanne Waffen-SS death squad Status - sentenced to death in absentia in Holland in 1949 after his escape to Germany, which until recently refused to extradite him or prosecute him; in April 2008 indicted in Germany for his crimes.
 

7.  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 issued an international arrest warrant against him and has asked for his extradition from Australia in 2005; Zentai is currently appealing his extradition to Hungary

8.  Mikhail Gorshkow – Estonia
Participated in murder of Jews in Belarus
Status: denaturalized in USA, under investigation in Estonia

9. Algimantas Dailide – Germany
Arrested Jews murdered by Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators
Status: deported from USA; convicted by Lithuania, which has hereto refused to implement his sentence of imprisonment

10. Harry Mannil – Venezuela
Arrested Jews and Communists executed by Nazis and Estonian collaborators
Status: cleared by investigation in Estonia; barred from entry to US