Nonprofit’s Work Sparks Arrest of Alleged Nazi War Criminal

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July 17, 2012; Source: CNN

Hungarian police have reportedly arrested the most wanted suspect of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international nonprofit named after the Holocaust survivor and famed Nazi hunter. In his lifetime, Wiesenthal, with the help of assorted governments, tracked down more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals. While the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s work is not limited to finding remaining Nazi war criminals, it still does so, and the Center believes it has found one, in Budapest, in the case of Ladislaus (or “Laszlo”) Csizsik-Csatary, who was atop the Center’s most wanted list.

According to statements from witnesses collected by the Wiesenthal Center, Csizsik-Csatary was a senior Hungarian police officer who participated in delivering some 15,000 Jewish people to the Auschwitz death camp in 1944. The British tabloid The Sun reportedly confronted Csizsik-Csatary, who reportedly responded by quickly denying all allegations and then slamming his door closed. Csizsik-Csatary has reportedly now been arrested by Hungarian police.

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The arrest comes after Efraim Zuroff, director of the Center’s Israel office, said that the Center had provided new evidence to a prosecutor in Budapest that documents Csizsik-Csatary’s “key role in the deportation of approximately 300 Jews from Kosice to Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, where almost all were murdered in the summer of 1941.” In a statement, Zuroff said the new evidence “reinforces our insistence that he be held accountable for his crimes” and that “the passage of time in no way diminishes his guilt and old age should not afford protection for Holocaust perpetrators.”

According to Zuroff, finding Csizsik-Csatary was part of Operation: Last Chance, a project in which the Wiesenthal Center is joined by the Miami-based Targum Shlishi Foundation.

Wiesenthal himself passed away in 2005. He said that, other than perhaps “for a short time in the very beginning” of his work, he was not driven by a desire for revenge, but instead operated on the principal of “justice, not vengeance.” –Mike Keefe-Feldman