Most Wanted List of Nazis Shifts With Two More Nabbed

How Do Nazi-Hunters Rate the War Criminals?

Kurt Hoffman

By Anne Cohen

Published June 24, 2013, issue of June 28, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Rosenbaum has been hunting Nazis since 1979, when, as a law student, he saw a newspaper advertisement announcing the creation of a Justice Department unit that would pursue Nazi war criminals living in the United States.

Thirty-four years later, in what he calls “a summer internship gone awry,” Rosenbaum is still at it — the longest-running investigator of human rights violators living in the United States in the Justice Department’s history. Five of the 10 names on Zuroff’s list are people who were discovered and prosecuted by Rosenbaum’s team.

What sounds like intrepid and adventurous work is actually based on paperwork — a lot of paperwork. In the 1980s, Rosenbaum’s agency, then known as the Office of Special Investigations, built a database of all the people who could reasonably be considered to have had Nazi involvement. This involved, Rosenbaum said, going over more than 70,000 names “in SS records and on Most Wanted lists” and comparing each of those names against immigration records in the United States.

“People that have read too many John le Carré novels think that the way these cases originate is that a survivor recognizes their oppressor on the street. That’s not the reality,” Rosenbaum explained. “I wish it were more like television.”

From a team that numbered 50 strong at its peak, in the 1980s, the number of HRSPS staffers devoted to rooting out Nazi war criminals is now down to 10. For years, the OSI was the only law enforcement agency to have its own team of historians on staff, as well as translators who spoke German, Polish, Hungarian and other languages.

Because the alleged crimes were not perpetrated on American soil, Rosenbaum and his team have no criminal jurisdiction to prosecute. They can only build a civil case for the suspect’s deportation to his country of origin, or to some other country with criminal jurisdiction. In Karkoc’s case there are three possible options: Ukraine, his country of origin; Poland, where he committed the majority of his crimes, and Germany, because he worked under the auspices of the Third Reich.

In the end, like Zuroff, with whom he has a “very good relationship,” Rosenbaum performs work that relies on the willingness of a foreign government to prosecute old men and women for crimes committed more than half a century ago.

“It’s very frustrating,” Rosenbaum admitted. “If you have a low frustration threshold, this is not the work you want to do. The vast majority of the people we have returned to Europe have not been prosecuted.” Formal conviction is rare, he noted.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.