BERLIN – "Wanted" posters have been tacked up across Germany by Nazi hunters who say there are war criminals out there who continue to escape justice almost seven decades after the end of World War II.
"The advanced old age of the perpetrators should not be a reason to discontinue prosecution, since the passage of time in no way diminishes their guilt and old age should not protect murderers," said Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights group that tracks anti-Semitism.
"Every single prosecution is an important reminder that justice can still be achieved for the victims of the Holocaust," he said.
The campaign, "Late. But not too late! Operation Last Chance II," kicked off Tuesday and offers a $33,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nazi criminals, according to the center.
The posters show a black-and-white photograph of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and state: "Millions of innocents were murdered by Nazi war criminals. Some of the perpetrators are free and alive. Help us to bring them before a court."
Zuroff estimates that about 60 potential war criminals are still alive.
The campaign to seek out former World War II-era Nazis in Germany was launched by Zuroff following the conviction of John Demjanjuk in Munich. Demjanjuk was a Ukaranian-American convicted in 2011 by a German court for as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews while a guard at a Nazi extermination camp. He died in a German nursing home in March 2012.
In a legal precedent in Germany the court held that anyone who was an "overseer" of activity in the concentration camp could be charged with complicity in the murders even if they did not directly kill inmates.
Six million European Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust, a genocide that involved thousands of German Nazis and their collaborators throughout Europe.