NEW YORK (Feb. 22)
Nazi-hunter Beate Klarsfeld today appealed to the United States and American public opinion to help pressure the government of Chile to expel Nazi war criminal Walter Rauff, responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews during World War II.
“What we can do in the case of Rauff is to mobilize public opinion,” Klarsfeld told a news conference at the headquarters of the American Jewish Committee. In suggesting that the U.S. apply pressure on the government of President Augusto Pinochet, Klarsfeld said “dictatorships are always sensitive to pressure coming from abroad.”
Klarsfeld’s appearance follows her recent visits in South America to Chile, seeking support for extradition requests for Rauff to stand trial for war crimes, and to Paraguay, to ask the government to locate and expel the most notorious of Nazi war criminals, Josef Mengele, the doctor who carried out in humane experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp.
‘TIME IS RUNNING OUT’
“Time is running out,” Klarsfeld said. “These criminals are getting older and older and I think it is a question of justice that they just don’t die in their beds in Santiago or in Paraguay.”
Klarsfeld, a citizen of West Germany whose activities along with her husband, Serge, over many years helped bring other Nazi war criminals to justice, was arrested twice in Santiago for “disturbing public order.” Her second arrest came when she led a small group of demonstrators outside the home of Rauff carrying placards cdling him to be brought to justice.
Her trip to Chile coincided with an extradition request from Israel for Rauff. The request was denied on grounds that it would be inappropriate to expel the Nazi war criminal inasmuch as Chile’s Supreme Court rejected a West German request in 1963 and because Rauff “has lived 20 years in peace since the Supreme Court ruling.”
The 77-year-old Rauff, a former SS colonel, designed the mobile gas chamber trucks in which an estimated 200,000 Jews were killed before the death camps at Auschwitz, Treblinka and other sites were constructed to carry out the “final solution” on a vaster scale.
Klarsfeld maintained today that Rauff can be expelled to West Germany despite the Supreme Court’s ruling because he is not a Chilean citizen and be- cause he failed to disclose his past activities when he entered the country in 1958. In Santiago, where she met with members of opposition parties, Klarsfeld said she was told of an article contained in the Constitution which allows for Pinochet to expel political opponents. She said that just as Pinochet has expelled thousands of political opponents during his 10 years of military rule, he could also agree to extradite Rauff.
TOLD MERGELE’S WHEREABOUTS ARE UNKNOWN
In Paraguay, Klarsfeld said the situation involving Mengele is more complicated. She said she was told by government officials that Mengele’s where abouts are unknown. Mengele did have citizenship in Paraguay until 1979 when the Supreme Court revoked it, declaring that he had been “unjustifiably absent” from the country for more than two years.
According to Klarsfeld, two officials in Paraguary–the Interior Minister and the Chief of the Supreme Court — assured her that if “Mengele was found tomorrow… he would be sent directly to Germany.” West Germany made an extradition request for Mengele in 1962. The government issued a warrant for his arrest but said it could not find him.
Klarsfeld said the Mengele issue is considered a “hot problem” for Gen. Alfredo Stroessner’s government for international reasons, one being that Stroessner would like to make an official visit to several European countries.