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After the Holocaust

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Prosecute Suspected Death Squad Members Now, Nazi Hunter says

October 3rd 2017


Two suspected members of Hitler's death squads, recently uncovered through dogged investigative work, should face trial no matter their age, Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff has said.

Kurt Gosdek and Herbert Wahler are alleged to have been members of Einsatzgruppen mobile killing units during the Second World War.

On Thursday night German broadcaster ARD will show interviews with the men, who are both aged in their nineties.

The Einsatzgruppen killed close to 1.5 million Jews and other “enemies of the Reich” in the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1943.

According to legal precedent set by the 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk in a Munich courtroom, accessories to Nazi war crimes may be tried for murder.

Mr Zuroff, from the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the JC he had received a positive response when he pressed years ago for Einsatzgruppen operatives to be added to Nazi war crime investigations.

He said he had provided names of possible death squads members to the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes, the main German agency that investigates Nazi crimes, but had received no answer.

“At a certain point I said, ‘I have to do something to find out which of these people were alive,’” Mr Zuroff told the JC.

“ARD was interested and approached me.” He gave them the same list of names he’d supplied to the authorities.

“When I got the word from the people at ARD [that they had located two of the alleged perpetrators] I was beside myself.”

According to Mr Zuroff, who has seen a transcript of the programme scheduled to air on Thursday evening, one of the men tells ARD he was fixing cars for the Einsatzgruppe.

“Those cars took people to the pits so they could murder tens of thousands of Jews,” Mr Zuroff said.

“These men are apparently in good health and there is no reason to ignore them.”

“The fact that no one who served in the mobile killing squads has yet to be prosecuted under the new policy makes the expedition of the cases of Kurt Gosdek and Herbert Waller of great urgency and public importance,” he added in a separate statement.

According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Einsatzgruppen were squads composed primarily of German SS and police personnel. Among their tasks was to murder people perceived to be racial or political enemies in German-occupied Soviet areas.

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