Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Nazi-Hunters Finger 80 Death Squad Members

Video: Nate Lavey

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent the German government a list of 80 people it believes murdered Jews while serving in Nazi death squads in World War Two and who may be still alive, the head of the Israel office of the organization said.

The push for an investigation into members of Einsatzgruppen, or death squads, was triggered by a landmark conviction in 2011 of John Demjanjuk, a guard at the Sobibor death camp, said the Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff.

Demjanjuk was the first Nazi war criminal to be convicted in Germany for being a guard at a death camp without evidence of a specific crime or victim. He died in March 2012, aged 91.

The verdict unleashed a wave of new investigations even though nearly 70 years after the end of the Holocaust, most suspects have died or are unfit for trial.

The hunt was no longer for high-level perpetrators of the Holocaust, in which some 6 million Jews died, but for thousands of people who helped in the machine of death.

“We want investigations into these people,” Zuroff told Reuters.

If a court could convict anyone who served in a death camp, membership of a Nazi body whose main aim was murder could also be grounds for a conviction, he said.

The Einsatzgruppen committed mass killings especially in occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Including some members of the SS, many historians say the death squads killed more than a million Jews.

The bulk of the crimes would have taken place in 1941-1943, said Zuroff, who has been prevented by Germany’s tight privacy laws from finding out whether the 80 individuals on the list, who include four women, are alive or dead. He has picked out members of death squads born after 1920, he said.

“Anyone we find is a victory. The last thing on earth to feel for these people is sympathy,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the German justice ministry said the list had been passed to the special prosecutors office in Ludwigsburg that investigates Nazi crimes.

After World War Two a handful of leading death squad members were charged with war crimes.

Dive In

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    50th meeting of the Yiddish Open Mic Cafe

    Hybrid event in London and online.

    Aug 14, 2022

    1:30 pm ET · 

    Join audiences and participants from across the globe for this live celebration of Yiddish songs, poems, jokes, stories, games, serious and funny - all performed in Yiddish with English translation.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit the Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, images, and credit to the Foward. Have questions? Please email us at editorial@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.