Nazi-Hunting Poster Campaign Continues Search For Remaining War Criminals In Germany

on July 23 2013 2:56 PM
Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is offering a reward for information leading to the indictment of suspected Nazis. Creative Commons/Ana Paula Hirama

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has set up a poster campaign in the streets of several German cities to find elderly Nazis and charge them with war crimes in connection to the Holocaust. The campaign offers a monetary reward for information leading to a suspected Nazi being charged with a crime.

The center’s poster campaign hit the streets of Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg, reports the Associated Press. The 2,000 posters put up features the name of the mission, Operation Last Chance II, with the slogan, “Late but not too late.” The center has also set up a hotline that individuals can call. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter and Israel director, set up the campaign following the conviction of John Demjanjuk.

Demjanjuk, a guard at a Nazi death camp in Sobibor, Poland, was convicted as an accessory to murder under new German laws that relaxed the need to directly tie an individual to a murder, or crime, at a Nazi extermination camp. Demjanjuk appealed the decision and died during the process, voiding the conviction and making him, technically, innocent.

More recently, a suspected Auschwitz guard, Hans Lipschis, 93, was arrested in Germany in May. Lipschis admitted to being an SS officer but claimed he only served as a cook at the camp and was not involved in any murders. Lipschis is currently in jail awaiting formal charges and German authorities are investigating 50 alleged Auschwitz guards that are still alive.

According to Zuroff, the conviction of Demjanjuk helped spur a renewed push to bring suspected Nazis to justice. “This conviction paves the way for additional prosecutions of individuals who served in death camps, as well as the members of the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units). Our poster campaign in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne is an appeal to people who can help us identify and/or find these perpetrators while they can still be brought to justice,” said Zuroff in a statement.

Any Nazis left at this point are quite elderly -- Lipschis is 93 while Demjanjuk died in 2012 at the age of 91 after being convicted in 2011 -- but that should not deter the public from giving information to officials that could lead to the arrest of suspected war criminals, argues Zuroff. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers,” says Zuroff. He also argues that convictions could serve as a warning to neo-Nazis and other racist groups, and bringing suspected Nazis to justice could also serve as a blow to Holocaust deniers.

The center is offering a reward for any information leading to charges being filed against a suspected Nazi. According to AP, the center will give 5,000 euros, $6,580, for information leading to an indictment, 5,000 euros for a conviction and 100 euros for each day, up to 150 days, that individual spends in jail. All told, an individual could stand to receive 25,000 euros, $33,042.50, as a reward.

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