"Perhaps we would not be seeing the resurgence of neo-Nazi criminal activity today if a better job had been done convicting and punishing perpetrators for their crimes during the Holocaust," — Dr. Efraim Zuroff, SWC Chief Nazi Hunter
The Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomed the arrest in Germany of Auschwitz SS-Death's Head guard Hans (Antanas) Lipschis, number four on the Center's "2013 Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals" list.
The Center noted that Lipschis served from October 1941 until January 1945 in the most notorious of Nazi death camps, where approximately 1,300,000 inmates were murdered, among them approximately 1,100,000 Jews.
"Lipschis' arrest is a welcome first step in what we hope will be a large number of successful legal measures taken by the German judicial authorities against death camp personnel and those who served in the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), which together murdered more than three million Jews during the Holocaust," said Dr. Zuroff.
His arrest was made possible by the 2011 conviction in Munich of Sobibor death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk, who was the first Nazi war criminal convicted in Germany after many decades, without evidence being presented to the court of a specific crime with a specific victim. The importance of that verdict is that it provides a legal basis for the prosecution of many Holocaust peretrators, who spent lengthy periods in carrying out mass murder, but would otherwise have escaped prosecution.
"There is no small irony in the fact that on the day of the opening of the most important trial of a neo-Nazi in recent years in Germany, the German authorities arrested a guard of the notorious Auschwitz death camp," continued Dr. Zuroff.
"Despite the passage of decades since the latter committed his crimes, the prosecution of Holocaust perpetrators remains extremely significant. The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers and old age should not afford protection to those who committed such terrible atrocities," Dr. Zuroff concluded.
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