Posted on July 21, 2003
Wiesenthal Center urges Nazi-perpetrators to be convicted
"Operation Last Chance"
is the name of the search for the last non-convicted
Nazi-perpetrators. The operation, coordinated by the
Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), has
now also started in Austria - especially to search for
policemen who took part in dislodging, deporting and
killing up to half a million civilians during World
Head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim
Zuroff, accused Austria of having done too little to
put these Nazi-perpe- trators on trial. None of these
policemen have been convicted yet in Austria. In Germany,
15 sentences for policemen who were members of these
squads have been passed so far.
In the course of these trials in Germany
also Austrian police- men were mentioned and accused.
Zuroff already handed over a list of 47 alleged members
of these police squads to Justice Minister Dieter Böhmdorfer
(FPÖ), who has reassured the SWC that the Austrian
government will fully cooperate in the search.
Eight police bataillons that existed in
Austria are accused of taking part in torturing and
killing civilians - mostly Jews. According to the German
public prosecutors' office, Austrians were also members
of the SS-police squad which was deployed in 1943 to
the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw where the majority of inhabi-
tants were killed.
"Operation Last Chance" is financed
by Aryeh Rubin, representative of the Targum Shlishi
foundation. He said that he hoped the last few nights
were the last few peaceful ones for the perpe- trators
which have not been convicted.
The president of the Austrian Jewish Community,
Ariel Muzicant, said that it would be a first step if
the Austrian government investigated which people still
took part in SS- meetings today. He said that Austria
has done a lot in banning neo-Nazi-action but that it
brought up the rear in Europe when it came to persecuting
and convicting Nazi-perpetrators.
National Fund honoured
The Austrian National Fund for victims of the Holocaust
was honoured by the Yad Vashem Memorial Place in Jerusalem.
Almost 30,000 people have received 5,000 euros and more
out of the Fund, State Secretary Franz Morak (ÖVP),
said during a visit to Israel last week. He stressed
that during the Nazi-regime Austrians were "victims
and perpetrators alike".
Payments from the restitution fund of
the Austrian govern- ment are still frozen because of
pending cases in the USA. A US-lawyer now called on
the Austrian government to start the payments despite
lacking legal security.