A student from Vienna has uncovered a suspected Nazi war criminal in Germany as a result of his research for a university project.
Andreas Forster, 27, a student at the Institute of Political Science at Vienna, taped a video interview with the 89-year-old man, who allegedly recalled participating in the murder of 60 Jewish forced laborers in March 1945 in Austria.
After Forster made the research discovery, he informed his professor, political scientist Walter Manoschek, that the man probably was living in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Forster and Manoschek traveled to Germany, according to a report in der Standard of Austria, and asked the man for an interview. He spoke with them foron camera for several hours during three interviews. The man also was shown eye-witness reports from a trial that took place in Vienna in 1946.
Die Zeit newspaper reported that the massacre in question took place in the town of Deutsch Schützen, Austria – then part of the German Reich. Some 60 Jewish forced laborers were forcibly assembled and shot by German soldiers in a forest near a church. The mass grave was discovered in 1995.
Reportedly, the suspect was a member of the Waffen-SS, and his name was known as of 1946. Forster conducted research about the man in the Federal Archive in Berlin. Manoschek told Die Zeit online that he had the feeling the man “was using me as a sparring partner” during the interview, “to see what I knew, what was on the record, as if to prepare for a possible trial.” At first he said he did not recall the shootings, but then he said the eyewitness reports might be accurate. By the end of the interview, the suspect again denied having taken part in the massacre.
Manoschek notified the state prosecutor in Dortmund. Chief Prosecutor Ulrich Maass, who heads the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Mass Crimes, told Die Zeit that investigations are being “accelerated,” with the first held on Aug. 15. They have not yet contacted the suspect, he said.
Manoschek and Forster hope to present their interview in a documentary film.