NEW YORK (JTA) – The Simon Wiesenthal Center praised Germany’s recent efforts in tracking down former Nazis while noting a general lack of progress in finding them throughout the rest of the world.
The organization’s 14th Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, released Monday, said Germany has found dozens of former Nazis since 2011. In the past year, cases against most of them have been referred to prosecutors; two have been brought to court.
“The most important positive results achieved during the period under review [April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015] were obtained in Germany, in the wake of the implementation by the local judicial authorities of a legal strategy, which paves the way for the conviction of practically any person who served either in a Nazi death camp or in the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units),” the report said.
By contrast, Eastern European countries have not shown the political will to locate and punish former Nazis living there, according to the report.
“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 report said.
More than 3,500 new investigations have been opened in the 14 years the Wiesenthal Center has been issuing its annual reports.
“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 be brought to trial during the coming years,” said the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel director, Efraim Zuroff.