Two new names were added this year to the Wiesenthal Center’s Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals list. Both were members of the notorious SS-Death’s Head camp guards. Their names are Hans (Antanas) Lipschis and Theodor Szehinskyj, both of whom escaped to the United States after World War II. While Lipschis was extradited to Germany, where he is currently being questioned, Szehinskyj should have been deported from the U.S. a decade ago, but to this day no country has expressed willingness to accept him.
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According to the information provided by Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, Lipschis, who is fourth on the Wiesenthal Center’s list, served in the SS. From October 1941 to 1945 he was at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he participated in acts of mass murder and the persecution of civilians, including Jews. After the war he fled to the U.S., but was deported to Germany 30 years ago, where he is now being questioned.
The report states that Szehinskyj served as an armed SS guard at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Poland, at Sachsenhausen in Germany and in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. He took an active part in the persecution of civilian prisoners. After the war, he too fled to the U.S. His American citizenship was revoked after 2000 and he was to be deported, though to this point no other nation has acceded to take him.
The Wiesenthal Center placed the U.S. in Category A, the highest category, for its work in investigating and prosecuting Nazi war criminals. Italy, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia share second place. The report puts them in Category B, which is reserved for countries that “have registered at least one conviction and/or filed one indictment, or submitted an extradition request during the period under review.”
Norway, Sweden and Syria received a grade of F-1 in the report for refusing “to investigate, let alone prosecute, suspected Nazi war criminals because of legal (statute of limitation) or ideological restrictions.” Australia, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine received a grade of F-2, reserved for “countries in which there are no legal obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals, but whose efforts (or lack thereof) have resulted in complete failure during the period under review, primarily due to the absence of political will to proceed and/or a lack of the requisite resources and/or expertise.”
“During the past 12 years, at least 99 convictions against Nazi war criminals have been obtained, at least 89 new indictments have been filed, and well over 3,000 new investigations have been initiated. Despite the somewhat prevalent assumption that it is too late to bring Nazi murderers to justice, the figures clearly prove otherwise, and we are trying to ensure that at least several of these criminals will to be brought to trial in the coming years,” Zuroff commented on the report.
“While it is generally assumed that the age of the suspects is the biggest obstacle to prosecution, in many cases it is the lack of political will, more than anything else, that has hindered the efforts to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice, along with the mistaken notion that it was impossible at this point to locate, identify and convict these criminals. The success achieved by dedicated prosecutors, especially in the United States, Italy and Germany, should be a catalyst for governments all over the world to make a serious effort to maximize justice while it can still be reached.”
The Wiesenthal Center’s list of the most wanted Nazi war criminals always begins with the names of two arch-criminals, which appear above the list of the 10 most wanted. Despite the belief that they are deceased, officials of the Wiesenthal Center say that no solid information about their fate has been received. They are Alois Brunner, a key operative of Adolf Eichmann who was responsible for the deportation of more than 100,000 Jews from Austria, Greece and Slovakia to Nazi death camps, and Aribert Heim, a physician in Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Mauthausen who murdered dozens of prisoners by lethal injection. The Wiesenthal Center included Heim in its report even though Germany has declared that he died in Egypt in 1992. Dr. Zuroff says that since his burial place is unknown, he still appears on the list.
The list of the 10 most wanted Nazi war criminals begins with the name of Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, who served as a “senior Hungarian police officer in Kosice [Hungarian-occupied Slovakia] and was in charge of the ghetto of ‘privileged’ Jews; helped organize the deportation to Auschwitz of approximately 15,700 Jews from Kosice and vicinity in spring 1944.”
The Wiesenthal Center discovered him in Budapest, where he was living, in 2011. Last summer, he was placed under house arrest to await trial. The report notes: “Last month, a Slovak court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment to enable Slovakia to seek Csatary’s extradition to stand trial for his crimes in Kosice.”
In second place on the list is Gerhard Sommer, who participated in the massacre of 560 civilians in the Italian village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema. He has been under criminal investigation in Germany since 2002, but as yet no criminal charges have been brought against him.
The third name on the list is Vladimir Katriuk, who now lives in Canada. He is suspected of having taken active part in the murder of Jews and innocent civilians in various places in Belarus. In fourth place is Hans Lipschis, one of the newly-added names mentioned above. In fifth place is Ivan (John) Kalymon, who lives in the U.S. and is suspected of having participated in the murder, roundups and deportation of Jews living in the Lvov Ghetto. Kalymon was ordered deported from the U.S. in 2011, but since no country has been found that is willing to admit him, he remains in the United States.
In sixth place is Soeren Kam of Germany, who took part in the murder of the editor of an anti-Nazi newspaper. Germany has refused to extradite him to Denmark.
In seventh place is Algimantas Dailide, who is living in Germany and hunted Jews and Poles who fled from the Vilna Ghetto. He was convicted in Lithuania of having imprisoned and executed Jews who tried to escape from the Vilna Ghetto, but the judges did not imprison him because of his advanced age. In eighth place is Mikhail Gorshkow, who served in the Gestapo in Belarus as an interpreter and was charged with taking part in the massacre of Jews in Slutzk. In 2011, the case against him was closed in Estonia for lack of evidence.
Last on the list is Helmut Oberlander of Canada, who allegedly murdered 23,000 people, most of them Jews. He is now appealing the decision of a Canadian court to revoke his citizenship.