Final hunt for master criminals

Final hunt for master criminals

Kansas City Star: Because there should never be a statute of limitations on genocide, Nazi hunters are launching what they call a “last chance” search for Holocaust-era war criminals. Everyone who cares about history and justice should wish them success.

This is the final push in what the Simon Wiesenthal Center calls its “Operation Last Chance II” campaign, begun a year and a half ago.

“This is really it,” said Efraim Zuroff, head of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office. “We have two or three years maximum, that’s all.”

Most primary Nazi leaders responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others in World War II either perished in the war or were put on trial later.

But many of Germany’s lower-level Nazi officials escaped and have been the target of searches — some of them successful — for decades.

Just last month, two suspected Nazi war criminals were arrested. In Hungary, 98-year-old Laszlo Csatary was taken into custody and charged with helping to deport Jews to the infamous Auschwitz death camp in Poland. He is accused of assisting in the murder of 15,700 Jews, though he denies the allegations. And in Germany, a suspected former Auschwitz guard, Hans Lipschis, 93, also was arrested in June.

It’s uncertain exactly how many more now-elderly Nazis are still living beyond the reach of the law, but even if it’s only a handful, the search for them is worth the effort in the interest of justice and a full historical accounting of how remarkably close the murderous Hitler regime came to realizing its astonishing goal of eradicating European Jewry.

Rounding up old Nazis and holding them accountable for their part in the evil of the Holocaust may remind a forgetful world of what happened in the 1940s and may convince authorities to do what they can now to prevent something similar from happening again.

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