The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Nazi hunting. Sounds like a glamorous job, but judging from Operation Last Chance, a new book by Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, catching Nazis is more grit than glamour.
In the book, published by Palgrave MacMillan, Zuroff recounts his recent painstaking efforts in finding aging Nazis and their collaborators around the world and convincing often reluctant local governments to extradite and prosecute them.
Zuroff, who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, has been helping catch and punish Nazi war criminals since 1980. Brought up in Brooklyn and a graduate of Yeshiva University, Zuroff later received his doctorate from Hebrew University and today lives in Efrat.
The Jewish Press recently spoke with him.
The Jewish Press: Some of the war criminals the Simon Wiesenthal Center hunts are over 90 years old. Why chase people for crimes committed over 60 years ago?
Zuroff: The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers. We don’t think people deserve a medal simply because they reach an old age.
To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a country in the civilized world (save Sweden) that limits prosecution for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity based on age. The issue is not the person’s age; it’s whether or not he or she is mentally and physically capable of standing trial.
I have a case now in Budapest of someone whose date of birth is 1914, which makes him 95 years old. But he’s in very good health. He lives by himself, takes care of all his needs, he’s busy suing me for libel, running around giving interviews, and fighting against us in every single way possible. There’s no reason to ignore him just because his date of birth is 1914.
If we were to set a limit based on age it would mean that if you were lucky enough and/or rich enough and/or smart enough to elude justice until you reach that age, you’re off the hook. That would obviously be a travesty.
We also feel that the victims of the Shoah deserve that their persecutors be held accountable for their crimes. How would it look if we stopped and then a person asked us, “What about this person who murdered my grandmother during the Shoah?”
You write in the book that some Jewish communities around the world do not appreciate your Nazi-hunting activities. Why?
Some communities [especially in Eastern Europe] feel vulnerable to anti-Semitism and they’re afraid that [cooperating with us] will increase anti-Semitism.
In Eastern Europe anti-Semitism is of the traditional sort. It doesn’t have to do with the Middle East like in Western Europe. It’s the usual things, like “The Jews killed Jesus.” In other words, typical anti-Semitic themes based on economic, religious, nationalistic and ethnic reasons.
Remember, in these countries we’re running after local Nazi war criminals. We’re pressing local governments to put their own people – Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians, and Croatians – on trial in their own countries for collaborating with the Nazis.
Which countries have been the most cooperative in prosecuting Nazis and their collaborators, and which have been the least cooperative?
The country with the best record in the world is undoubtedly the United States. However, it’s easier to win Nazi war crimes cases in the United States because the people are not being prosecuted on criminal charges but rather for immigration and naturalization violations. In the States all you have to prove is that someone lied on his immigration or citizenship application. Many people claimed they were students, farmers, or officials, masking the fact that they had been members of security police units, guards in concentration camps and the like.
About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
Jews are an anxious group – understandably, given the millennia of persecution – and want to have no trouble.
Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]
You have to understand that Ukraine was really a very, very Jewish place for many years.
What I think is going on here is the Midrash is making a comment about Rut’s love for Naomi being some sort of reflection of how we have to love God.
I can tell you that Cablevision has been astonished at how high we rank.
HarperCollins’s omission was especially egregious because it is a major general and educational publisher.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/the-man-who-wont-let-nazis-die-in-peace-an-interview-with-efraim-zuroff/2009/11/08/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: