Nazi hunters seek German probe of WW2 death squad suspects

Wed Oct 1, 2014 11:15am EDT
 
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By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent the German government a list of 80 people it believes murdered Jews while serving in Nazi death squads in World War Two and who may be still alive, the head of the Israel office of the organization said.

The push for an investigation into members of Einsatzgruppen, or death squads, was triggered by a landmark conviction in 2011 of John Demjanjuk, a guard at the Sobibor death camp, said the Wiesenthal Center's Efraim Zuroff.

Demjanjuk was the first Nazi war criminal to be convicted in Germany for being a guard at a death camp without evidence of a specific crime or victim. He died in March 2012, aged 91.

The verdict unleashed a wave of new investigations even though nearly 70 years after the end of the Holocaust, most suspects have died or are unfit for trial.

The hunt was no longer for high-level perpetrators of the Holocaust, in which some 6 million Jews died, but for thousands of people who helped in the machine of death.

"We want investigations into these people," Zuroff told Reuters.

If a court could convict anyone who served in a death camp, membership of a Nazi body whose main aim was murder could also be grounds for a conviction, he said.

The Einsatzgruppen committed mass killings especially in occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Including some members of the SS, many historians say the death squads killed more than a million Jews.   Continued...

 
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, unveils a copy of the 'Gemlich Letter', written by Adolf Hitler in 1919, in Los Angeles, California October 4, 2011.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson