Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals

Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals


Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals

    Israel's top Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff is touring Latin America and Europe in an "Operation Last Chance" to put surviving World War Two war criminals behind bars.

    [1] Alois Brunner

    Location: Syria

    Brunner was a key operative of Adolf Eichmann, Nazi mastermind behind the Holocaust. He is held responsible for deportation of 128,500 Jews to Nazi death camps

    Status: living in Syria for decades. Damascus refusal to cooperate has stymied prosecution efforts. Brunner has been convicted in absentia by France.

    [2] Dr Aribert Heim

    Location: Thought to be in Chile, elsewhere in Latin America or possibly in Spain or Austria

    Heim was a doctor in Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps, there is a reward of €310,000 on his head. He murdered hundreds of camp inmates by lethal injection in Mauthausen.

    Status: Heim disappeared in 1962 prior to a planned prosecution. There is strong evidence that he is still alive and there have been recent sightings of him.

    [3] Ivan Demjanjuk

    Location: USA

    Demjanjuk participated in the mass murder of Jews in Sobibor death camp. He also served in Majdanek death camp and Trawniki SS-training camp.

    Status: Demjanjuk has been stripped of US citizenship and there is an outstanding deportation order against him, he is under investigation in Poland.

    Born in Ukraine, John (Iwan) Demjanjuk has been the defendant in four different court proceedings relating to crimes that he committed while serving as a collaborator of the Nazi regime.

    Investigations of Demjanjuk's Holocaust-era past have been ongoing since 1975. Proceedings in the United States twice stripped him of his American citizenship, ordered him deported once, and extradited him from the United States twice to stand trial on criminal charges, once to Israel and once to Germany. His trial in Germany, which ended in May 2011, may be the last time that an accused Nazi-era war criminal stands trial. If so, it would mark the culmination of a 65-year period of prosecutions that began with the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945.

    Some facts of Demjanjuk's past are not in dispute. He was born in March 1920 in Dobovi Makharyntsi, a village in Vinnitsa Oblast of what was then Soviet Ukraine. Conscripted into the Soviet army, he was captured by German troops at the battle of Kerch in May 1942. Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States in 1952 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1958. He settled in Seven Hills, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and worked for many years in a Ford auto plant.

    First Trial: Israel, 1987
    The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began investigating Demjanjuk in 1975 and filed denaturalization proceedings against him in 1977, alleging that he had falsified his immigration and citizenship papers in order to conceal World War II service at the Treblinka killing center.

    The case had begun as an investigation into the Sobibor camp, due to Demjanjuk's alleged service at that killing center and to the testimony of a Soviet witness named Ignat' Danil'chenko in the late 1940s. Danil'chenko had stated that he knew Demjanjuk from their service together in Sobibor and at theFlossenbürg concentration camp until 1945. After Jewish survivors viewing a photo spread identified Demjanjuk as serving at Treblinka near the gas chambers, however, U.S. government officials instead pursued the Treblinka charges. In 1979, the newly created Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in the DOJ took over prosecution of the case.

    Following a lengthy investigation and a 1981 trial, the U.S. District Federal Court in Cleveland stripped Demjanjuk of his U.S. citizenship. As U.S. authorities moved to deport Demjanjuk, the Israeli government requested his extradition. After a required hearing, U.S. authorities extradited Demjanjuk to Israel to stand trial on charges of crimes against the Jewish people and crimes against humanity. Demjanjuk was only the second person to be tried for these charges in Israel. The first,Adolf Eichmann, was found guilty in 1961 and executed in 1962.

    The trial opened in Jerusalem on February 16, 1987. The prosecution claimed that while Demjanjuk was a prisoner of war (POW) being held by the Germans, he volunteered to join a special SS (Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadrons) unit at theTrawniki training camp (near Lublin, Poland), where he trained as a police auxiliary to deploy in Operation Reinhard, the plan to murder all Jews residing in German-occupied Poland. The prosecution charged that he was the Treblinka killing center guard known to prisoners as “Ivan the Terrible,” and that he had operated and maintained the diesel engine used to pump carbon monoxide fumes into the Treblinka gas chambers. Several Jewish survivors of Treblinka identified Demjanjuk as “Ivan the Terrible,” key evidence placing him at the killing center.

    Trawniki Training Camp
    A critical piece of evidence was Demjanjuk's Trawniki camp identification card, located in a Soviet archive. The authorities at Trawniki issued such documents to men detailed to guard detachments outside the camp. Demjanjuk's defense claimed that the card was a Soviet-inspired forgery, despite several forensic tests that verified it as authentic. Demjanjuk, then 67 years old, testified on his own behalf, claiming that he had spent most of the war as a POW in German captivity in a camp near Chelm, Poland.

    Though key to the American government's and the Israeli prosecution's case, the identity card did not place Demjanjuk in Treblinka, but rather as a guard at an SS estate in Okzów, near Chelm in September 1942, and as a guard at the Sobibor killing center from March 1943. Though the card contained some information that was inconsistent with the testimony of the Treblinka survivors, it was the only document available that placed Demjanjuk at Trawniki as a police auxiliary (that is, in the pool of auxiliaries from which Treblinka guards were selected). No wartime documentary evidence that definitively placed Demjanjuk at Treblinka has ever surfaced.

    Demjanjuk's Tattoo
    Another piece of evidence in the prosecution's case involved scars under Demjanjuk's left arm, the remains of a tattoo identifying his blood type. SS authorities introduced the practice of blood-type tattooing into the Waffen-SS (Military SS) in 1942. Some members of SS Death's Head Units in the German concentration camp system also received such tattoos, as they were considered linked to the Waffen SS administratively after 1941. Nevertheless, blood-type tattooing was never consistently implemented. Hence this physical evidence only suggested, but by no means proved, that Demjanjuk might have served as a concentration camp guard.

    The existence of scars from an “SS tattoo,” particularly given confusion in popular culture between the blood-type tattoo (mandatory) and the SS-rune tattoo (voluntary), misled prosecutors both in the United States and Israel as to its significance. There is no evidence that POWs trained as police auxiliaries at Trawniki received such tattoos.

    Israeli Verdict and Appeal
    Based primarily on the survivor identifications, the Israeli court convicted Demjanjuk and, on April 25, 1988, sentenced him to death, only the second time that an Israeli court had imposed capital punishment upon a convicted defendant (the first beingEichmann).

    As Demjanjuk's appeal made its way to the Israeli Supreme Court, the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Hundreds of thousands of pages of previously unknown documents became available to both the prosecution and the defense. In the records of the former Ukrainian KGB in Kiev, the Demjanjuk defense team found dozens of statements of former Treblinka guards whom Soviet authorities had tried in the early 1960s.

    None of them identified Demjanjuk as having served at Treblinka. They did, however, consistently refer to an Ivan Marchenko, who had served as a gas motor operator at Treblinka from the summer of 1942 until the prisoner uprising in 1943, and who had stood out as a particularly cruel police auxiliary, perpetrating acts that were consistent with the memory of the Jewish Treblinka survivors. After returning to Trawniki in August 1943, Marchenko transferred to Trieste, Italy and disappeared towards the end of the war. His fate remains unknown.

    The existence of these statements alone, however, created sufficient reasonable doubt that Demjanjuk ever served at Treblinka, moving the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn Demjanjuk's conviction on July 29, 1993, without prejudice, signifying that the Israeli prosecution could choose to try Demjanjuk on charges related to other crimes.

    New Evidence from Former Soviet Archives
    Such a proceeding became possible upon the discovery of internal Trawniki training camp personnel correspondence in the Archives of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation in Moscow. These documents placed Demjanjuk at the Sobibor killing center as of March 26, 1943, and at the Flossenbürg concentration camp as of October 1, 1943. The evidence placing him at Sobibor was consistent with the information on Demjanjuk's Trawniki identification card and with Danil'chenko's testimony.

    Moreover, after Demjanjuk's extradition to Israel, investigators at the OSI, while reviewing original personnel and administrative records from Flossenbürg, found references to Demjanjuk's name linked to his Trawniki military identification number (1393), thus independently corroborating Danil'chenko's testimony that Demjanjuk served at Flossenbürg.

    In the summer of 1991, an OSI investigator searching in the Lithuanian National Archives in Vilnius for documentation related to a Lithuanian police battalion found by chance a document that placed Demjanjuk as a member of a Trawniki-trained guard detachment stationed at the Majdanekconcentration camp between November 1942 and early March 1943.

    American Citizenship Restored, Then Revoked Again
    After his original extradition to Israel, Demjanjuk's family had filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of Justice to obtain access to all investigative files at the OSI that related to Demjanjuk, Trawniki, and Treblinka. Upon receiving these files, and after years of litigation, Demjanjuk's American defense team filed a suit against the U.S. government to set aside the judgment stripping him of his citizenship, and accused the OSI of prosecutorial misconduct.

    Meanwhile, despite having the legal option, Israeli authorities declined to prosecute Demjanjuk for his activities at Sobibor, and prepared to release him. Based on a June 1993 finding of a U.S. Special Master that OSI had inadvertently withheld documentation that might have been helpful to the Demjanjuk defense in 1981, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ordered the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno, not to bar Demjanjuk's return to the United States. After five more years of litigation, the District Court in Cleveland restored Demjanjuk's U.S. citizenship on February 20, 1998, but without prejudice, leaving the option open for OSI to proceed with a new case based on new evidence.

    With five years of careful review into thousands of Trawniki-related documents that had been unavailable before 1991, OSI investigators could track through wartime documents Demjanjuk's entire career as a Trawniki-trained guard and as a concentration camp guard from 1942 to 1945. With this new evidence, the OSI team had also developed a more thoroughly documented understanding of the importance of the Trawniki camp during the Holocaust as well as the process of how camp authorities made personnel assignments.

    In 1999, OSI filed a new denaturalization proceeding against Demjanjuk, alleging that he served as a Trawniki-trained police auxiliary at Trawniki itself, Sobibor, and Majdanek, and, later, as a member of an SS Death's Head Battalion at Flossenbürg. As a result, in 2002 Demjanjuk again lost his American citizenship, this time for good. After a federal appeals court upheld this decision, OSI filed a deportation proceeding in December 2004. One year later, in December 2005, a U.S. Immigration Court ordered Demjanjuk deported to his native Ukraine.

    Demjanjuk appealed the deportation order on various grounds, including the argument that, given his age and poor health, deportation would constitute torture against which he was seeking protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. On May 19, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review his appeal. That same year, German authorities expressed interest in prosecuting Demjanjuk on charges of accessory to murder during his service at Sobibor.

    Second Trial: Germany, 2009
    Demjanjuk was removed from the United States to Germany in May 2009. Upon his arrival, German authorities arrested him and held him in Munich's Stadelheim prison.

    In July 2009, German prosecutors indicted Demjanjuk on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder at Sobibor. The German jurisdictional authority rested on the murder of people brought to Sobibor on 15 transport trains from the Westerbork camp in the Netherlands between April and July 1943, among whom were individual German citizens who had fled to Holland in the 1930s.

    Demjanjuk, at 89 years old, claimed that he was too frail to stand trial, but the court ruled that the trial could proceed with two 90-minute sessions per day. In November 2009, he again sat in the defendant's dock. During this trial, the evidence implicating Demjanjuk rested not on survivor testimony, but on wartime documentation of his service at Sobibor. Since the earlier witnesses were now deceased, the Munich court accepted that survivor testimony be read into the proceeding to facilitate findings of mass murder and determine the identity and citizenship of many of the victims.

    After 16 months of trial, proceedings closed in mid-March 2011. On May 12, 2011, Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. His lawyers intend to appeal.

    International Interest
    A Spanish court has also requested extradition of Demjanjuk for crimes allegedly committed against Spanish citizens incarcerated at Flossenbürg . These victims were supporters of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, who had sought refuge in France in 1939, and whom the Germans incarcerated as political prisoners after defeating France in 1940.

    The trials of John Demjanjuk have attracted global media attention for three decades. These legal battles underscore the interdependence of the historical record and the long search for justice to redress crimes against humanity.

    [4] Milivoj Asner

    Location: Austria

    Asner was police chief of Slavonska Poega, in Croatia and took an active role in persecution and deportation to death of hundreds of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies.

    Status: discovered in 2004 indicted by Croatia which requested his extradition from Austria which has refused to extradite him. He claims medical problems.

    [5] Dr Sandor Kepiro

    Location: Hungary

    As a Hungarian gendarmerie officer Kepiro participated in mass murder of over 1,200 civilians in Novi Sad, Serbia

    Status: discovered in 2006. Kepiro was originally convicted but never punished in Hungary. Hungary recently refused to implement his original sentence but has opened a new criminal investigation against him.

    [6] Mikhail Gorshkow

    Location: Estonia

    Gorshkow participated in murder of Jews in Belarus

    Status: He was stripped of US citizenship and is under investigation in Estonia

    [7] Erna Wallisch

    Location: Austria

    Wallisch was a guard at Majdanek death camp and she has a admitted role in mass murder

    Status: Austria refuses to prosecute due to a statute of limitations but new witnesses to Wallisch's direct involvement in war crimes may see a rethink. She is under investigation in Poland.

    Elderly woman is wanted Nazi war criminal

    She looks like someone’s harmless grandmother waiting for the man to come to read the meter or repair the boiler. But this little old lady is one with a dark past and a unique claim to infamy.

    For Frau Erna Wallisch, 85, ranks number seven on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of Nazi war criminals still at large.

    Tracked down by British historian and author Guy Walters for his book 'Hunting Evil', about the escape and pursuit of Nazi war criminals, she lives in a small apartment on the bank of the Danube in Vienna. Incredibly, her surname is printed on the bell-push for her apartment.

    When found by Mr Walters last Friday, Wallisch refused to comment on his investigation into her past as a brutal concentration camp guard.

    Other residents in her apartment block said they knew nothing about her history, and most told Mr Walters that they supported the Austrian government’s decision not to prosecute her.

    "It’s all in the past and should be forgotten," said Frau Durchhalter, one of Wallisch’s neighbours. "People should learn to forgive."

    "I do not find this attitude surprising," said Mr Walters. "For too long, the Austrians have been unacceptably lenient with these evil men and women in their midst. I suspect their reluctance to confront these criminals is because it would only highlight the extent of Austrian complicity with Nazism."

    Rarely leaving her home, Wallisch is cared for by her family who bring her groceries and sit drinking coffee and making small talk with their elderly relative.

    Born Erna Pfannenstiel, the daughter of a postal clerk in eastern Germany in 1922, Wallisch joined the Nazi party when she was still a teenager and became a camp guard at the Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp near Berlin - where British SOE agent Violette Szabo was among the tens of thousands murdered .

    Wallisch later transferred to the Majdanek death camp in Poland where she was based between October 1942 and January 1944. Some inmates claim she beat prisoners to death.

    The testimony of at least four has been gathered in a bid to bring justice for her victims.

    They allege that Wallisch used "violence and illegal threats for reasons of race and nationality, against women and children weakened physically and psychologically, from peoples within regions under civil occupation ... she treated them in an inhumane way."

    In Lublin she had a romance with Georg Wallisch, a Nazi guard, who she later married in March 1944.

    Jadwiga Landowska, a former prisoner, recalled how the then-pregnant Wallisch beat people to death.

    "The pregnant Nazi monster woman who went crazy and attacked us did not appear among those tried in Duesseldorf after the war. The pregnant one hit a young boy lying on the floor with something harder than a whip. Blood was pouring from his head and he gave no sign of life or reaction. The sweating, breathless face of that monster was something I will never forget."

    But Austria’s Justice Ministry has officially informed the head of the Wiesenthal Centre, Dr Efraim Zuroff, that Wallisch’s crimes come under the statute of limitations and she would therefore not be prosecuted.

    This reinforces the Centre’s claims, and those of other Nazi hunters, that the Alpine republic has been a haven for Nazis who settled there with little fear of being called to account for their crimes.

    In his meeting with Justice Minister Gastinger, Dr Zuroff argued that Wallisch had admitted participation in the mass murder of inmates at Majdanek. But Austria says it can take no legal action against her.

    As a result, Dr Zuroff has appealed to the Polish authorities to take action against her based on her own admission that she had committed crimes in Poland and against Polish citizens. There is no statute of limitations for such crimes in Poland.

    Dr Zuroff said: "It is unthinkable that a person who was part of the mass murder of at least thousands of innocent civilians should be protected by Austrian law, and we therefore urge the Polish authorities to try to achieve justice in this case."

    [8] Søren Kam

    Location: Germany

    Kam is suspected in the murder of anti-nazi Danish newspaper editor Carl Henrik Clemmensen, and his alleged aiding of the deportation of Danish Jews to Nazi concentration camps, where dozens were murdered.

    Status: Kam was indicted in Denmark for the murder of Clemmensen, but a German court refused to approve his extradition to stand trial in Copenhagen. The Danish judicial authorities have recently launched an investigation of his role in the deportation of the Jews at the request of the Wiesenthal Centre.

    Former SS Officer Sheltering in Germany

    Image 1 of 2 _Søren Kam is photographed in his SS uniform in 1945 and in 1978 _

    By Bruno Waterfield in Kempten im Allgäu 12:01AM GMT 28 Nov 2007

    The Daily Telegraph has tracked down former SS-Obersturmfuehrer Søren Kam to the peaceful suburbs of Kempten im Allgäu, a town about 75 miles from Munich.

    Dr Efraim Zuroff, a veteran Israeli Nazi-hunter, will be in Europe next week to mount “Operation Last Chance”, to bring men such as Kam to justice and to expose the role of complacent German judicial authorities in continuing to provide alleged war criminals with safe havens.

    “Kam is on my list because in my estimation he is one of the top 10 Nazis that could feasibly be brought to trial” for war crimes, said Dr Zuroff, who is director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem.

    The 86-year-old Dane is number eight on the list of 10 “most wanted Nazi war criminals” drawn up by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

    But in Bavaria, Kam, a man who met Adolf Hitler, lives openly. By his doorbell is a traditional Bavarian clay plaque, made by his grandchildren, and bearing the family name.

    Kam responded to knocks on his front door by opening his front window and hiding behind the curtains. All that could be seen was his hand, but the voice of the SS man remained clear and dismissive. “I know who you are. I don’t want to talk to you. Leave me in peace,” he said, before slamming the window.

    Kam has been indicted by the Danish government for the murder in 1943 of Carl Henrik Clemmensen, the anti-Nazi Danish newspaper editor.

    Clemmensen’s bullet-riddled body was found by a roadside after he was seized from his home by three men, led by Kam. Denmark’s authorities would also like to talk to him regarding the theft in 1943 of a population register, later used to round up and deport 500 Danish Jews to concentration camps.

    But Kam is protected. Munich courts earlier this year threw out attempts, under a European Union arrest warrant, to deport him back to Denmark. A clear case, claimed Dr Zuroff, of “misplaced German judicial sympathy for a despicable Nazi collaborator who faithfully served the Third Reich”.

    [9] Karoly (Charles) Zentai

    Location: Australia

    Zentai participated in manhunts, persecution, and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944.

    Status: discovered in 2004, Hungary has issued an international arrest warrant against him and has asked for his extradition from Australia, Zentai is currently appealing.

    [10A] Algimantas Dailide

    Location: Germany

    Dailide arrested Jews who were then murdered by Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators

    Status: He was deported from USA and convicted by Lithuania, where the authorities have yet to implement his sentence of imprisonment citing medical reasons.

    [10B] Harry Mannil

    Location: Venezuela

    Mannil arrested Jews and Communists who were then executed by Nazis and Estonian collaborators

    Status: He cleared by and investigation in Estonia but is barred from entry to the US.

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