The Simon Wiesenthal Center has released the initial findings of its twelfth Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which covers the period from April 1, 2012 until March 31, 2013 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. Australia scored an F and “the most disappointing result”.
Australia ranked alongside Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine. Last year the High Court in Canberra reversed a decision to extradite Perth resident Charles Zentai to Hungary to face questioning on the murder of a Jewish youth in Budapest.
The United States was the only country to be awarded an “A” ranking.
Dr Efraim Zuroff, the report’s authour and director of the Jerusalem Siomon Wiesenthal Center, told J-Wire: “As could be expected, Australia which by preventing Zentai’s extradition to Hungary to stand trial for the crimes he is accused of committing during the Holocaust, ended its efforts to hold the Nazi war criminals it admitted as refugees accountable in total failure, received a failing grade. It is hard to believe that Australia, one of the world’s best democracies, could fail so miserably in this important mission, but the blocking of Zentai’s extradition means in practical terms, that Australia failed to take successful legal action against a single Holocaust perpetrator who was admitted to the country.”
Among the report’s highlights are the following important developments:
1. The most important positive result in a specific case during the period under review was the indictment in Hungary in July 2012 of former Kosice (Hungarian- occupied Slovania) ghetto commander Laszlo Csatary for his role in the mass deportation of approximately 15,700 Jews to the Auschwitz death camp in the spring of 1944. Csatary who was sentenced to death in absentia in Czechoslovakia in 1948 escaped to Canada, where almost fifty years later he was stripped of his Canadian citizenship for concealing his wartime role in the persecution of Jews. Csatary voluntarily left Canada and his whereabouts were unknown until he was discovered living in Budapest by the Wiesenthal Center. On July 17, 2012, he was indicted, placed under house arrest, and had his passport confiscated, as he awaits possible criminal prosecution.
2. Two new names appear on the Center’s latest “Most Wanted” list, those of armed SS-Death’s Head camp guards Hans (Antanas) Lipschis and Theodor Szehinskyj, both of whom escaped to the United States after World War II. While the former was deported to Germany, where he is currently under investigation, the latter was ordered deported a decade ago from the United States. Until now, however, no country has been willing to admit him. These names replace Klaas Faber (#2), who died before he could be incarcerated for his crimes, and Karoly (Charles) Zentai (#5), whose extradition to Hungary to stand trial for murder was blocked by the Australian authorities.
4. 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 the Communists are equal to those of the Nazis is another major obstacle to the prosecution of those responsible for the crimes of the Shoa.
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 twelve years, at least ninety-nine convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least eighty-nine new indictments have been filed, and well over 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 we are trying to ensure that at least several of these 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 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.”
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 Hungary and Canada, 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 refuses to investigate, let alone prosecute, due to a statute of limitations.”
As could be expected, Australia which by preventing Zentai’s extradition to Hungary to stand trial for the crimes he is accused of committing during the Holocaust, ended its efforts to hold the Nazi war criminals it admitted as refugees accountable in total failure, received a failing grade. It is hard to believe that Australia, one of the world’s best democracies, could fail so miserably in this important mission, but the blocking of Zentai’s extradition means in practical terms, that Australia failed to take successful legal action against a single Holocaust perpetrator who was admitted to the country.
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: Canada, Germany, Hungary, Italy,* Serbia*
C: Netherlands,* Poland*
D: Great Britain*
E: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, New Zealand, Romania, Slovakia, Spain
F-1: Norway, Sweden, Syria
F-2: Australia, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine
X: Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Luxemburg, Paraguay, Russia, Slovenia, Uruguay
* tentative grade pending receipt of official statistics
MOST WANTED NAZI WAR CRIMINALS
As of April 1, 2013
*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 – Lived 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,
a court in Baden-Baden, Germany closed the case without forensic confirmation of Heim’s death.
1. Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary – Hungary
Served as a senior Hungarian police officer in Kosice (Hungarian-occupied Slovakia) and was in charge of the ghetto of “privileged” Jews; helped organize the deportation to Auschwitz of approximately 15,700 Jews from Kosice and vicinity in spring 1944.
Status: Convicted in absentia and sentenced to death for torturing Jews and his role in the mass deportation to Auschwitz. Escaped to Canada after World War II, but was stripped of his Canadian citizenship in 1997, and chose to voluntarily leave the country. His whereabouts were unknown until fall 2011 when he was discovered living in Budapest by the Wiesenthal Center in the framework of “Operation: Last Chance.” On July 17, 2012, Csatary was charged with torture of the Jews in the Kosice Ghetto, and was placed under house arrest and had his passport confiscated. Currently under house arrest in Hungary, where he awaits possible prosecution. In late March 2013, a Slovak court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment to enable Slovakia to seek Csatary’s extradition to stand trial for his crimes in Kosice.
2. 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.
3. Vladimir Katriuk – Canada
Served as a platoon commander of the first company of Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 which carried out the murder of Jews and innocent civilians in various places in Belarus.
Status: Escaped to Canada after World War II but was stripped of his Canadian citizenship in January 1999, after his service as a Nazi collaborator was revealed. In May 2007, the Canadian authorities decided to overturn his denaturalization, a decision confirmed by the Federal Court of Appeal in November 2010. New research by Swedish historian Per Anders Rudling revealed Katriuk’s active role in the mass murder of the residents of the village of Khatyn, Belarus and provides a firm basis to overturn the decision not to strip Katriuk of his Canadian citizenship.
4. Hans (Antanas) Lipschis – Germany
Served in the SS – Totenkopf Sturmbann (Death’s Head Battalion) from October 1941 until 1945 at the Auschwitz – Birkenau death camp where he participated in the mass murder and persecution of innocent civilians, primarily Jews.
Status: Escaped to the United States after World War II, but was deported by the American Office of Special Investigations to Germany in April 1983. Currently under investigation by the German authorities for his role in the Nazi death camp.
5. 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. No such country has yet been found and he therefore remains in the United States.
6. 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. A subsequent extradition request was refused in early 2007 on the grounds that Clemmensen’s death was not murder but manslaughter, which was under a statute of limitation. Efforts continue to bring Kam to justice either in Germany or in Denmark.
7. 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, Dailide was ruled medically unfit to be punished, without being personally examined by the doctors who provided the expertise.
8. 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; had been under investigation in Estonia since his arrival several years ago, but in October 2011 the Estonian authorities closed the investigation against Gorshkow, claiming the case was one of “mistaken identity,” a decision which was severely criticized by the United States, Russia, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
9. Theodor Szehinskyj – United States
Served as an armed SS Death’s Head guard at the Gross Rosen (Poland), Sachsenhausen (Germany) and Warsaw (Poland) concentration camps where he actively participated in the persecution of civilian prisoners.
Status: Escaped to the United States after World War II, but was stripped of his American citizenship in 2000 by the Office of Special Investigations and was ordered deported in 2003. To this date, no country has been willing to admit him and he therefore remains in the United States.
10. Helmut Oberlander – Canada
Served in Einsatzkommando 10a (part of Einstazgruppe D), which operated in southern Ukraine and Crimea and is estimated to have murdered more than 23,000 people, mostly Jews.
Status: Escaped to Canada after World War II, but was stripped of his Canadian citizenship in August 2001, after his wartime service with the Nazis was revealed. In May 2004, his citizenship was restored but it was revoked a second time in May 2007, a decision which was overturned by a Federal Court of Appeal in November 2009. On September 27, 2012, Oberlander’s citizenship was revoked again by Order in Council P.C. 2012-1137. He is currently appealing the decision before the Federal Court of Canada.
Dr Colin Rubenstein of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council told J-Wire: “It is disappointing and frustrating that the energy and time invested by governments and human rights advocates over many years has not resulted in better results. No Australian wants Nazi War Criminals to live out their lives in Australia free of fear of facing any consequences for their actions, but the historic record reveals that hundreds of such fugitives managed to do so.”