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Hunting escaped Nazi War Criminals

Updated on March 16, 2013

After the fall of Nazi Germany and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, what remained of the European Jewish community wanted two things. Firstly a land to call their own and secondly justice. Justice was needed for the estimated 6,000,000 innocent souls systematically murdered in the name of Nazi Anti-Semitic policies. The Jews were controversially given a land of their own in Palestine, which eventually became the state of Israel. Out of mass murder by the Nazi regime the Jewish peoples finally got a land for themselves. But many people of Jewish descent knew that criminals could still live their lives free. And never face the victims of the crimes they committed under the Nazi states protection.

Auschwitz Birkenau
Auschwitz Birkenau

A Nazi hunter is the term applied to an individual who tracks down and gathers intelligence information on former members of th Nazi party or former members of the SS. If these people had clear involvement in the Holocaust they can be punished for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Many Prominent Nazi's tried to flee the scene of their crimes during the chaos of post war Germany and Europe. It is alleged that South America was a favoured destination for top ranking Nazi's, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina have been previously linked with harbouring war criminals.

The task of hunting Nazi war criminals was never going to be easy in Europe. In Germany most Germans had to be a Nazi party member to live and work, after the fall of the evil regime ordinary Germans wanted to bury the horrors of the past few years. With the onset of the Cold War between the USSR and the USA tracking down Nazi's was made a lot harder due to lack of co-operation between the two feuding superpowers. Following the Second World War the Western Allies, the USA and the USSR all made use of former Nazi scientists and operatives for their own motives and agendas. Nazis who co-operated or had some intelligence usefulness were occasionally given state protection in return for their services Wernher von Braun the former Nazi in charge of the V2 and V3 rockets was pivotal in America's Rocket research programme after the war and his research helped the USA in their Space programme.

Prominent private Nazi-hunters have included the likes of Simon Wiesenthal, Tuviah Friedman, Yaron Svoray, Michel Thomas, and Efraim Zuroff. All of the above have sought out fugitives on their own or have assisted other countries in tracking down fugitives from the crimes of the Final Solution. Simon Wiesenthal is maybe the most recognisable Nazi hunter, due to his controversial part in the locating, arresting and eventual executions of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Much has been said of Wiesenthal's involvement or lack of involvement by Mossad agents in 1962. Wiesenthal claims he supplied the intelligence to Mossad, Mossad's then chief denies any help was received from Wiesenthal. After Eichmann's 1962 execution in Israel, Wiesenthal reopened the Jewish Documentation Center, which began to focus on other cases. His most notable success was the capture of Franz Stangl, Franz Stangl was the commandant of the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps.

The Nazi hunters believed that shadowy right wing groups such as ODESSA and Right wing dictatorships had helped a lot of Nazi's go into hiding. From the 1960's onwards with pressure from international activists, there was a greater cooperation between western European states, The Soviet Union, The USA and Israel. The anti-Nazi activity started to decline by the end of the 20th century as most of the generation active in Nazi leadership during the Holocaust had died out or reached extreme old age. Although some former Nazi or Nazi sympathizers and camp guards are still are at large and are still been extradited.


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