| 30Dec2009 | Deutsche Press-Agentur

INTERVIEW: Search for Nazis started too late, expert says

Ludwigsburg, Germany - Germany began far too late with its search for Nazi war criminals, according to the man responsible for bringing them to justice.

[W.Z. This is simply not true. Since the infamous Nurnberg War Crimes Trials, where the victors wreaked vengeance on the vanquished and ignored their own crimes, tens of thousands of Germans have been investigated and tried.]

'It is undisputed that not everything was done to legally process the Nazi period,' said Kurt Schrimm, who heads up the German central office for solving Nazi crimes.

'Mistakes were made early on,' Schrimm said of post-war Germany, during an interview with German Press Agency dpa.

Schrimm and his colleagues have come under fire over the ongoing prosecution of alleged war criminal John Demjanjuk, while higher-ranking Nazi officials have gone unpunished.

The 89-year-old is on trial in a Munich court, accused of having been an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor concentration camp, where he is alleged to have been a guard in 1943.

Amsterdam-based Nazi trial expert Christian Rueter has accused Schrimm and his team of putting Demjanjuk on trial to mark the 50th anniversary of their agency, in 2008.

'I consider it an impertinence to imply that we work to generate headlines and would sacrifice a small man for that purpose,' Schrimm said.

The search for guilty individuals was independent of their role and their nationality, he added. Ukranian-born Demjanjuk is stateless, after the US withdrew his citizenship.

'What is correct about Rueter's criticism is the fact that many high-ranking Nazi criminals were absolved over the decades,' Schrimm said, adding that this was no reason not to prosecute less important offenders.

Schrimm said the American and British occupying powers released many war criminals. 'This was considered a gesture to the Germans, because they were needed to form new economic and military alliances,' the investigator added.

He said it was fair to accuse Germany of having tolerated the presence of former Nazis amongst the police and judiciary after the war.

The war-time prosecution agency, based in the German city of Ludwigsburg, is working on another case similar to that of Demjanjuk, for which it has more extensive evidence.

The man in question is John (originally Ivan) Kalymon, born in Ukraine in 1921 and now living in the US. US authorities have withdrawn his citizenship, which they say he obtained without revealing details of his Nazi past.

As a member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police (UAP) in occupied Lviv, Ukraine, Kalymon allegedly murdered at least one Jew and participated in violent operations to expel Jews from their homes and send them to labour or extermination camps.

'Kalymon claims that the man in the documents was someone else with the same name. Now we need to check his signature in documents held in an archive in (the town of) Lemberg,' Schrimm said.

[Why does Mr. Schrimm insist on using German place names? -- Auschwitz for Oswiecim, Lemberg for Lviv?]

The investigations are set to continue in January, 2010.


Guest, Guest | December 30, 2009 at 19:07

You think THAT'S Late? The search for their Communist counterparts hasn't even YET begun and they killed more innocents before, during and after the war!