Better Late Than Never: Germany Continues Efforts to Convict Former Nazis

December 17, 2018

Statement

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) supports the ongoing efforts of Germany to charge and convict former Nazis and encourages Canada to follow suit in ensuring any remaining war criminals face justice.

There were reportedly 200,000 perpetrators of Nazi-era crimes, 140,000 of which were brought to court and only 6,656 convicted. In Canada, a special commission enacted in 1985 brought forward 883 individuals suspected of war crimes – but only 20 were recognized as strong possibilities and the government obtained naturalizations against only 10. Only one of those 10 remains alive and in the country – Helmut Oberlander.

“The ongoing convictions of former Nazis are bittersweet – while it’s disappointing to know that thousands of Nazis have evaded justice and enjoyed freedom for decades, late is better than never,” said FSWC President and CEO Avi Benlolo. “Other countries, like Canada, must join Germany in pursuing and taking action against those who have committed human rights violations.”

In 2011, a landmark German court ruling resulting in the conviction of John Demjanjuk – a former guard at the Sobibor death camp in Poland – changed the legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis, allowing guards to be charged as accessories to murder. 

Since then, numerous former Nazi guards have been charged, faced trial and been convicted for their role in the Holocaust. Two of the more infamous convicted guards were Oskar Groening, also known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” and Reinhold Hanning – both of whom died before serving their sentences. Other guards recently charged allegedly served at Mauthausen and Stutthof concentration camps.

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