A Nazi-hunting group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in its annual report has lowered the ranking of US in its efforts bring war criminals to justice. It also criticized “lack of political will” in Eastern Europe to punish Nazi criminals.
The ranking of US Nazi-hunting efforts was lowered for the first
time, and in part because the US has taken no action against
Michael Karkoc, a suspected 96-year old Nazi SS-led Ukrainian
Self Defense Legion commander, said Efraim Zuroff, director of
the center’s Israel office, AP reports.
An investigation into Karkoc’s alleged war crimes was opened by
German prosecutors back in 2013 after AP published a story
revealing that Karkoc commanded a unit accused of carrying out
brutal atrocities against civilians. Karkoc then concealed his
wartime record in order to receive US citizenship in 1949. Since
then Karkoc worked as a carpenter in Minneapolis and was never
brought to justice for war crimes.
The group also noted that “lack of political will,”
particularly in “post-Communist Eastern Europe,”
continues to be the major obstacle to achieving justice.
“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 [Holocaust],” the report said.
Zuroff believes that although many think it’s too late to bring
Nazi war criminals to justice, “the figures clearly prove
otherwise”, and they are trying to ensure that at least a
few of the Second World War criminals will be brought to trial
during the coming years.
“During the past 14 years, at least 102 convictions against
Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least 98 new
indictments have been filed, and well over 3,500 new
investigations have been initiated,” he said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center praised Germany for easing the terms
of prosecuting former Nazis. If earlier prosecutors could launch
an inquiry only in the cases of specific involvement or
atrocities, now they are allowed to consider suspect anyone who
served in a death camp or a mobile killing squad.
Over 100,000 German Nazi soldiers and their collaborators have
been accused of war crimes since the Nuremberg Trials in 1945 and
1946. Around half of 13,000 who have been found guilty were
sentenced. Zuroff estimates that around 2 percent of war
criminals could still be alive and well enough to face trials.