In Budapest on May 2011 a suspected Nazi war criminal stood trial. He looked to be a vulnerable and frail old man, but Sandor Kepiro stood accused of massacring around 1,200 Jews and Serbs in Serbia in 1942.
Kepiro was at the top of a list put together by US based Nazi hunting organisation, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. The Hungarian, was acquitted in July 2011 but died a few weeks later.
In 2008 when he was confronted by a journalist in Budapest, Kepiro maintained his innocence even though he had fled to Argentina at the end of the war before returning to Hungary in 1996.
His story is similar to that of many suspected Nazi war criminals who managed to live quiet, undisturbed lives after being accused of committing the most appalling crimes.
It was also in Budapest that Laszlo Csatary was found by journalists from Britain’s ‘Sun’ newspaper. The 97-year-old is accused of complicity in the deaths of some 15,700 Jews.
Along with him on the most wanted list of Nazi war criminals are:
- Alois Brunner, now presumed dead, who Adolf Eichmann referred to as “his best man”. Brunner was last seen in Syria in 2001.
-Algimantas Dailide, who was convicted in Lithuania in 2006, but did not go to jail due to his fragile health and who is currently living in Germany.
- Aribert Heim; there were indications that the Austrian, know as Doctor Death at Mauthausen Concentration Camp, spent time in Egypt, although he too is presumed dead.
- Karoly Zentai, a Hungarian who fled the country after the war and obtained Australian citizenship. He is awaiting the verdict of an extradition request to Budapest.
- Helmut Oberlander and Vladimir Katriuk, both in Canada, they are accused by the Wiesenthal Centre of crimes committed in Belarus and Ukraine respectively.
Clearly time is running out to bring those who committed horrific crimes to justice, as the director of the Wiesenthal Centre, Efraim Zuroff, explained: “We have a most wanted list. It’s the 10 people who I would say are most likely to be brought to justice – but that is only the tip of the iceberg. So no one really knows how many Nazi war criminals are still alive.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has unmasked, extradited and brought to justice many Nazi war criminals. Simon Wiesenthal said it was a duty to their victims.
Before his death in 2005, Wiesenthal had devoted his life to that cause after 89 members of his family disappeared during the Holocaust.