If Nazi war criminals are still alive, they're likely to be around 90 years old - and could be hiding almost anywhere in the world. As the time left to prosecute them grows short, Jewish Nazi hunters keen to see justice done before the last perpetrators all die off are entering the final stages of their “Operation Last Chance”.
The Los-Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre wants to see justice - and fast. A new German public campaign launching this week promises to give informants up to €25,000 for any tip-offs leading to the capture and conviction of holocaust perpetrators, the Tagesspiegel newspaper said on Monday.
To this end, on Tuesday posters will be put up in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne showing the infamous view of Auschwitz extermination camp beneath the caption “Late, but not too late” - urging people with information to come forward.
The bounty will be paid out on a sliding scale, said Efraim Zuroff, head of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, who has spent decades scouring the globe for Nazi criminals.
If a tip-off leads to a charge being brought against a suspected Nazi criminal, the informer gets €5,000. The centre will cough up another €5,000 if the suspect is convicted. On top of that, the informant gets paid €100 for every day that the perpetrator sits in jail, up to 150 days, Zuroff told the paper.
After decades of leniency by the German justice system many former SS members are thought to have remained at home to grow old in anonymity, wrote the paper. Around 50 former Auschwitz guards are thought to still be at large in Germany.
A recent legal precedent means that former extermination camp guards can now be convicted of accessory to murder – giving new hope to those thirsting for justice, wrote the paper.
“Time is running out,” said Zuroff, 64, who has vowed never to give up until he's convinced that nothing more can be done to bring those responsible for the Holocaust to justice. “That's why every positive result is welcome.”