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Wiesenthal Center Calls for Swift Action on Nazi War Criminal

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called upon both the West German and French governments to act swiftly on reports that infamous Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner is prepared to give himself up for trial. An article on Brunner published in the West German magazine, Bunte, claims that Brunner is prepared to give himself up as long as he has assurances that he will not land in Israeli hands.

A deputy and chief aide to Adolf Eichmann, he was responsible for deportations of at least 128,500 Jews, and was sentenced to death in absentia in 1954 in France for crimes against humanity. Brunner, who lives under the name of George Fischer in Damascus, is 73 years old.

Wiesenthal Center officials had previously met with French diplomats to urge renewed efforts to bring Brunner to justice, and have scheduled meetings with French Justice Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials in Paris next month.

“We have contacted those officials in Paris, to get immediate clarification as to what steps, if any, are available to the French,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Center.

An official of the French Foreign Ministry said they would confirm with the Wiesenthal Center within the next day or so whether or not France will take additional steps in the Brunner case. “Our legal counsel, Martin Mendelsohn, has asked the West German Embassy to clarify the claims in the Bunte story, and to reconfirm West Germany’s commitment to try him for his deep involvement in the ‘final solution’,” Cooper said.

Brunner, who is also wanted by Greece, Austria and Czechoslovakia, heads the Wiesenthal Center’s list of most wanted Nazi war criminals. Others include Leon Degrelle, former head of the Belgian SS, who was sentenced to death in absentia in Belgium after the war. Degrelle, an unrepentant Nazi, gives lectures and seminars on Nazi history, and contributes revisionist articles to publications of the notorious Institute for Historical Review, a Center spokesman said. Also on the Center’s list is Walter Kutschmann, now 71 years old, a former gestapo leader, who has been identified by Simon Wiesenthal as having escaped to Argentina after the war. It has been reported that he lives in the coastal town of Miramar, Argentina, under the name of Pedro Ricardo Olmo.

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