Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff scolded the New Zealand government for turning a blind eye to Nazis hiding there after World War II.
“New Zealand was the only Anglo-Saxon democracy which faced this problem and chose to ignore it, ” Efraim Zuroff, the The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel director, told a local newspaper Saturday. “New Zealand’s response on this issue should be a source of embarrassment.”
In 1990, Zuroff claimed as many as 40 Nazi war criminals escaped to New Zealand following the Holocaust.
New Zealand responded by establishing a small investigations unit in 1991. Seventeen Nazis were believed to be alive, but the unit cleared 15 of war crimes. Only one was deemed a “possible” war criminal, but in 1992 the national government decided it did not believe it had enough evidence for a successful prosecution.
Zuroff last visited New Zealand in 2006 to raise awareness for Operation Last Chance, a final effort to flush out Nazi war criminals in the twilight of their lives.
“One who was alive and living in Auckland was Jonas Pukas, a Lithuanian who served in the 12th Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalion, which murdered tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania and
Belarus,” Zuroff told the Otago Daily Times on Saturday.
He has previously accused Australia of being a “paradise” for Nazi war criminals.