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Wiesenthal Announces Global Campaign to Pressure Chile to Expel a Nazi War Criminal

February 21, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal announced here that an international campaign has been launched by the Simon Wiesenthal Center at Yeshiva University in Los Angeles to exert pressure on the government of Chile to expel a former Nazi official, Walter Rauff, who has been living in Santiago since 1958.

Wiesenthal said the campaign is taking the formal distributing some 1.5 million cards showing a wanted poster of Rauff and a photo of a camouflaged mobile gas van bearing the symbol of the Red Cross. The care is captioned, “Chile Protects Nazi Mass Murderer.” The vans, invented by Rauff, were mobile gas trucks which the gestapo used to asphyxiate 250,000 Jews in Eastern Europe during World War II. The trucks were disguised as Red Cross trucks. They were eventually replaced by gas chambers.

Wiesenthal announced the global campaign at a press conference before meeting with President Reagan at the White House late Thursday afternoon. One of the main points the Nazi-hunter discussed with the President was the case of Rauff.


Wiesenthal has been attempting to persuade President Augustino Pinochet of Chile to extradite Rauff to West Germany, without success so far. He wrote to Reagan about Rauff last April but Reagan did not respond directly, Wiesenthal told the press conference at the National Press Club. He said the matter was turned over to the State Department, which in turn referred the matter to the American Embassy in Santiago.

“Rauff is 78. He must be brought to justice soon,” Wiesenthal said. Rauff’s subordinates “have been tried, found guilty, and sentenced to terms of 20 years to life,” he pointed out. “West Germany sought Rauff’s extradition from Chile in 1962. In 1963, by a 2-3 vote, the Supreme Court of Chile turned the extradition request down.”

In a prepared statement, Wiesenthal said the only way Rauff can be extradited “is if leaders of the Western world let Pinochet know that Rauff’s presence in Chile stains its reputation.”


Wiesenthal also told the press conference that he has evidence linking “members of the Catholic clergy” with the flight of Rauff from Europe, including the role played by Bishop Alois Hudal. He said it was well documented that Hudal, who was working in the Vatican at the end of the war, provided Red Cross papers identifying fleeing Nazi war criminals as displaced persons.

Wiesenthal said Hudal helped Rauff escape from Milan to Ecuador and later to Chile in what has been termed “the Vatican connection.” He added, however, that “no evidence exists that links Pope Pius XII with providing help to escaping Nazi war criminals.” As evidence of Hudal’s role, Wiesenthal cited paragraphs from Hudal’s published diary and statements by Treblinka death camp commander Franz Stangl.

The Vatican has said it helped many stateless persons and refugees flee Europe at the end of the war, but Vatican historians say it never knowingly aided Nazi war criminals. But Wiesenthal said he expects the Vatican “to give a full report about the truth of the situation.”

(Charles Allen, Jr., in his three-part special series on the role of the Vatican, the Red Cross and American intelligence agencies in aiding Nazi war criminals escape from Europe, wrote in the February 16, 1983 issue of the Daily News Bulletin: “One of the termination points before exiting Italy to the sunnier climes of Latin America was the notorious pro-fascist cleric, Msgr. Alois Hudal, Bishop of Elia, resident of Collegio Teutonica de Santa Maria dell Anima in Vatican City.

(“Hudal had personally welcomed many SS escapees. Hudal defied public criticism of a high cleric’s intercession in behalf of wanted Nazi mass murderers: ‘I am neither police nor carabinieri,’ he said in 1947. ‘My Christian duty is to save whoever can be saved.’ Hudal’s background, address and telephone numbers–along with the fact of his ‘directing’ the escapees from the Munich/Augsberg/Austrian region–are carefully recorded in the documented pages of the ‘Top Secret’ (State Department) La Vista Report” that was written in 1947 by Vincent La Vista, then a military attache to the U.S. Embassy in Rome and a State Department officer.)


Wiesenthal, at the press conference, deplored what he described as the “medical miracle,” which, he said, in West Germany takes the “form of amnesty for war criminals with the help of a stethoscope. Criminals who are declared to be medically unfit usually are seriously ill and have but a few months to live. In the case of Nazi war criminals, the courts in Germany have allowed lawyers to use the so-called medical argument even on war criminals who have lived 20 years after they were declared medically unfit by the court.”

He cited the case of Dr. Horst Shumann, a colleague of Josef Mengele, the doctor who conducted inhumane experiments on Auschwitz inmates, who escaped to Khartoum, Sudan, and then to Accra, Ghana, where he became President Kwame Nkrumah’s personal physician after the revolution in 1960. Shumann was later extradited to Germany where he was declared unfit for trial.

Wiesenthal also cited the case of Erich Erlinger, who was the head of the SS in Minsk and Kiev. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in West Germany but in 1963 a doctor declared that he was unfit to be imprisoned. In 1969 Erlinger’s case was dropped. “He still lives free today, in 1984,” Wiesenthal declared. “He is 73 years old and works often in his garden.”

Dr. Aquillian Ulrich, accused of helping to murder 1,800 people by euthanasia, was also declared unfit to stand trial but continues to practice medecine, Wiesenthal said. He stressed that “there must be a protest against the misuse of this medical loophole in the protection of Nazi war criminals who gave no respite to their victims, and who should pay the price for their crimes against humanity.”

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