Simon Wiesenthal Center, Operation Last Chance: Rewards for Justice, Jerusalem
In July 2002 Targum Shlishi and the Simon Wiesenthal Center launched a campaign to bring remaining Nazi war criminals to justice by offering financial rewards of $10,000 for information leading to their arrest and conviction. This multi-year project was conceived by Targum Shlishi’s director, Aryeh Rubin, who developed it together with Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and coordinator of the project. Operation Last Chance was initially launched in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In Fall 2003 the program was expanded to Poland, Romania, and Austria. In Summer 2004 it was launched in Croatia and Hungary.
As of July 2004, the Wiesenthal Center had received the names of 198 suspected Nazi war criminals from Lithuania, 43 from Latvia, 13 from the Ukraine, and 6 from Estonia, of which 72 have been submitted to local prosecutors. Currently, there are eighteen official pretrial murder investigations being carried out in Lithuania and Latvia involving several dozen suspects.
“The amount and quality of the information received in the framework of ‘Operation: Last Chance’ is the best proof of the necessity of such a project and its historic significance,” Dr. Zuroff noted in September 2003. Although still in early stages in Poland, Austria, and Romania, by July the Center had received the names of an additional twenty-six suspects from those countries. The campaign will launch in Germany and other countries in the near future.
Click here to read about Operation Last Chance in Austria, Romania, and Hungary.
Voices from the Ashes Foundation, Inc., Translation of Testimonies, Coral Gables, FL
Voices from the Ashes is a newly established foundation whose purpose is to assist in translating and publishing what is believed to be the largest extant archive of early testimonies from Holocaust survivors. The archive, housed in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, includes more than 7,000 accounts from survivors throughout Poland from as early as August 1944. The testimonies are written primarily in Polish – and in many cases are handwritten by the survivors. They have essentially been dormant for almost sixty years. “Virtually every town and village in Poland (and beyond) is represented [in the archive], as well as every ghetto and camp,” noted David Swiatlo, president of Voices from the Ashes. “In addition to their potential as a historical source, these personal narratives can be an invaluable didactic instrument and an effective response to the growing disease of Holocaust denial.” The foundation is embarking on a multi-stage plan to translate and publish the testimonies, beginning with the translation of a group of five hundred testimonies. Targum Shlishi’s funding will be applied to the translation project. Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shlishi’s director, will sit on the Advisory Board. Other board members include Holocaust scholars Yaffa Eliach, Saul Friedlander, Raul Hilberg, Aaron Lansky, and Deborah Lipstadt.
Click here to read “Early Testimonies from Poland,” for more information about Voices from the Ashes
Click here to read translation of the testimony of Wajsleder Chana – Szpizajren, from Tomaszow Lubielski, Poland (© Voices from the Ashes and Jewish Historical Institute).
Click here to view pdf of Wajsleder Chana – Szpizajren’s testimony (© Jewish Historical Institute).
Postscript: Bogdan Koziy, Costa Rica
For several years Targum Shlishi and the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center were involved in an effort to bring to justice accused Nazi war criminal Bogdan Koziy. Koziy was a member of the Ukrainian Security Police during World War II and was accused of Nazi war crimes that included killing twelve people and helping the Gestapo round up Jews for transfer to concentration camps. He lived in the US from 1949 to 1984, and had repeatedly been a focus of attention for the US and USSR governments. In 1984 he fled to Costa Rica to avoid extradition from the US to the USSR. Targum Shlishi worked with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to pressure the Costa Rican government to expel Koziy. Efforts included a letter writing campaign and a threatened ad campaign. The image at right was part of this successful campaign; it never ran in the media. In early 2001, the supreme court of Costa Rica upheld an expulsion order against Koziy, and he went into hiding. Koziy was facing extradition to Poland when he died in November 2003.
“The fact that Bogdan Koziy died before he could be tried on criminal charges for his Holocaust crimes is undoubtedly a travesty of justice,” said Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “The blame for this sad state of affairs rests squarely on the shoulders of Costa Rican bishop Roman Arrieta who protected Koziy for many years from deportation or extradition from Costa Rica, the Costa Rican governments of the eighties and nineties who afforded him a haven, and the Ukrainian government which totally ignored his crimes even though they were committed in territory which is currently part of the Ukraine.”