BERLIN (JTA) — A last-ditch campaign in Germany to find Nazi war criminals will include rewards of up to some $33,000.
On July 23, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will launch Operation Last Chance II featuring posters and the rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nazi war criminals.
Most of the Nazis would be in their 90s today.
But “the passage of time does not in any way diminish the guilt of killers and old age should not protect people who committed heinous crimes,” Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal center’s chief Nazi hunter, told JTA.
Zuroff, who is based in Jerusalem, said in a telephone interview that there is “no question that it is a punishment to live in fear of capture, but the only thing is, these people were not living in fear. And this campaign will put the fear of justice into them.”
The effort to capture and try alleged war criminals was boosted with the 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk for his role in the murders of nearly 30,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp in Poland. The conviction, which was on appeal in Munich when Demjanjuk died in March 2012, opened the door for murder prosecutions for anyone proven to have been a death camp guard. Since Demjanjuk, several new cases have been opened.
Zuroff launched the first round of Operation Last Chance in December 2011. The renewed campaign is backed by the German outdoor advertising company Wall AG, which is sponsoring the placement of 2,000 posters in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.
“This is a way of reminding people that justice can still be obtained,” Zuroff said.