Nazi camp guard dies before trial


A former concentration camp guard under investigation in Vienna for Nazi-era war crimes died.

Erna Wallisch, 86, born in Germany, worked from 1942 to 1944 in the Majdanek concentration camp. She was under investigation based on new evidence recently provided by Poland when she died in a hospital last Saturday.

Wallisch moved to Vienna after the war and became an Austrian citizen. Two years ago, Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem appealed to the Polish government to demand her extradition, because Poland has no statute of limitations on war crimes.

The Vienna State Prosecutor initiated an investigation of Wallish on murder charges; she claimed she only guarded prisoners. Recently, however, the Polish Institute for National Memorial reportedly sent new information to Vienna: an eyewitness report from someone who had seen Wallisch beating a prisoner with a piece of wood.

Zuroff said this week that Wallisch escaped justice due to decades of avoidance by one Austrian administration after another. Charges against her had been dropped in the 1970s due to lack of evidence.

“The fact that a woman who admitted taking people to be gassed and guarding them so that they could not escape was never held accountable for her heinous crimes is a badge of shame for Austria and stark proof of the decades-long lack of political will in Vienna to bring Austrian Holocaust perpetrators to justice,” Zuroff told the German Press Agency.

Recommended from JTA