Nazi hunter: Remember victims, don't forget perpetrators

BELGRADE -- Efraim Zuroff says that on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we should not only remember the victims, but also the perpetrators of the crimes.

Efraim Zuroff addresses a commemorative gathering in Novi Sad last week (Beta)
Efraim Zuroff addresses a commemorative gathering in Novi Sad last week (Beta)

The director of the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center also called for a speedy termination of the cases underway.

Serbia and the world will Friday mark January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution in 2005.

January 27 is the date when, in 1945, the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

"It is important that on this day we remember not only the victims but also those who committed the crimes. Also, it is very important to understand that some of them can still be brought to justice. Therefore, we call on all the governments and countries in which the perpetrators live, and where this can be done, to speed up the cases in order to satisfy justice," Zuroff told Tanjug in a phone statement.

There are no active cases in Serbia at the moment, Zuroff recalled, bearing in mind that WW2-era Nazi suspects whom our country tried to bring to justice in the past period, such as Peter Egner, Milivoj Ašner and Sandor Kepiro, all died last year.

The authorities should now concentrate on establishing a memorial center at Staro Sajmiste Zuroff said, adding that the process is stalled due to a number of bureaucratic and other reasons.

The location was the site of a concetration camp set up in Belgrade by the occupying German forces in the Second World War.

"We urge the Serbian authorities, and especially Mayor of Belgrade Dragan Đilas, to take the necessary steps in order to turn the spot of mass killings into a memorial and education center," he said.

The Nazis and their allies killed around 11 million people in the war, about six million of which were Jews.

Around 600,000 Serbs, 80,000 Roma people and 63,000 Jews were executed in death camps and other locations of the former Yugoslavia - according to Tanjug news agency.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day will be marked in Serbia on Friday, and the central event will be headed by President Boris Tadić.