Menu JTA Search

Germany Urged Not to Introduce Statute of Limitation of War Crimes

An impassioned appeal to West Germany not to introduce a statute of limitations for Nazi crimes was made here by Simon Wiesenthal, who has helped to bring 1,100 criminals to justice since World War II.

Wiesenthal, the 70-year-old head of the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, said yesterday the statute of limitations would be a “big political victory” for present-day Nazis and a moral and physical defeat for the Jewish people Among criminals who might benefit would be Gustav Wagner, former deputy commandant of the Sobibor concentration camp. Wagner is in prison in Brazil awaiting extradition to West Germany, where he is due to be tried for the murder of 200,000 prisoners.

Wiesenthal, who was speaking at a seminar on anti-Semitism to the young leadership of the Joint Israel Appeal left for Bonn today to lobby West German politicians on the statute of limitations.

Speaking of the resurgence of rightwing anti-Semitic groups in many parts of the world, he said these could be combatted only on an international basis, and that Jewish communities would be the lasers if they stayed alone. “One of the biggest Jewish mistakes since the war was to stress the six million Jewish victims of Hitler and not the overall total of eleven million, which included the six million Jews. Our number was true, but our propaganda was false,” he said.

It had cost the Jews many of its friends including former resistance leaders, many of whom were still influential in European governments. Nevertheless, in the face of reviving anti-Semitism, it was still not too late to form a “brotherhood of victims of dictatorship,” Wiesenthal said.

NEXT STORY