(Miami, FL) March 15, 2010 – In 2002, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office together with Targum Shlishi launched Operation Last Chance, a campaign to bring remaining Nazi war criminals to justice. The initiative provides financial awards to informants who submit evidence or information leading to the conviction and punishment of a Nazi war criminal. Operation Last Chance was conceived by Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi, funded by Targum Shlishi, and implemented and coordinated by Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office. A book describing the initiative and the progress achieved, OPERATION LAST CHANCE: One Man’s Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice by Efraim Zuroff was published in late 2009 by Palgrave MacMillan.
The book describes the launching of Operation Last Chance in nine countries and the initiative’s impact on the issue of the prosecution of local Nazi war criminals in those countries and elsewhere in the world. Operation Last Chance, launched in Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary, has so far resulted in the names of 547 previously unknown suspects, 101 of whom were passed on to local prosecutors. This information led to dozens of murder investigations, three arest warrants, and two pending extradition requests.
Zuroff is often asked whether it is worth the effort to bring remaining Nazi war criminals to justice in light of their advanced age and the time that has passed since the end of World War II. In OPERATION LAST CHANCE he responds by writing that “the practical implication of a chronological limit of prosecution is that if a person is rich enough, lucky enough, and/or smart enough to escape justice until they reach that age, they will never be held accountable for their crimes, which is a terrible travesty of justice.”
Aryeh Rubin traveled with Zuroff to eight countries to launch the Operation Last Chance campaign. “When we started this initiative, I didn’t know what the effect would be. I do know that most of the Nazi war criminals got away with their gruesome deeds. I saw this as our last chance to act, our last chance to get across the message that if you seek to harm a Jew, there will be retribution,” he says. “Operation Last Chance shows us that it is never too late for justice.”
A book about another Targum Shlishi-funded project was a National Jewish Book Award winner in 2009 and was recently released in paperback. The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews by Father Patrick Desbois chronicles the work of locating and documenting the sites of mass graves of Jews killed in Ukraine during the Holocaust by Father Desbois’ organization Yahad-In Unum. In 2007, Targum Shlishi spearheaded a fundraising campaign to support Father Desbois’ work.
For more information
For more information about Operation Last Chance, see its website at www.operationlastchance.org/. For more information about Father Desbois’ work, see the Yahad-In Unum website at www.yahadinunum.org/en/.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.
Contact: Targum Shlishi