Simon Wiesenthal Center Report Praises Germany for Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals

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Former Nazi death camp officer Oskar Groening attends the opening of his trial on April 21, 2015 in Lueneburg, northern Germany. Credit: AFP

An annual report on Nazi war criminals released on Thursday heaped praise on Germany for its efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.

From April 2015 to March 2016, Germany opened investigations against 42 individuals, 16 more than than runner-up Italy.

Germany was also the only country to obtain a conviction in that period, convicting the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz," Oskar Groening, on at least 300,000 counts of accessory to murder charges in July 2015.

The report, published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israel office since 2002, was released in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday. 

On Thursday, Israeli leaders and representatives of over 40 countries attended an event in memory of Holocaust victims at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Seven decades after World War II, there have been 103 convictions of Nazi war criminals, according to the report, with Italy and the U.S. topping the list. Changes in Germany's prosecution policy since 2011 have resulted in more investigations, and "there is potential for additional achievements in the immediate future," the report added. 

"The extension of life expectancy has made it possible to continue to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice even at this late date, and we hope to help maximize those efforts despite numerous obstacles," said Efraim Zuroff, the center's chief Nazi hunter, in a statement.

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