The hunt for the last Nazis

The US has deported to Austria a former Nazi death camp guard, Josias Kumpf. The move sheds light on the continuing search - in some countries, at least - for World War II war criminals. Mario Cacciottolo examines a hunt now entering its final phase.

"Looking for Nazi war criminals is the ultimate law enforcement race against the clock."

Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in the United States, has a list of thousands of suspects.

But working out whether any of them are alive and in the US is a laborious job.

A full check could take 100 years at current rates, he says - but in 10 years "the World War II biological clock will come to an end".

Contrary to popular belief, most former Nazis did not go into hiding after the war. Most did not even change their name.

There were some - such as Adolf Eichmann, who planned the transport of Jews to death camps, and Dr Joseph Mengele, Auschwitz's "Angel of Death" - who slipped away amid the post-war chaos and assumed false identities.

But the majority simply took off their uniforms, went home, and got a job.

And for a crucial period in the 1950s, little was done to track them down, experts say.

Justice 'not done'

"More could have been done, but there was a lack of political will. Not from 1945 to 1948, but after that," says Jean-Marc Dreyfus, lecturer in Holocaust studies at the University of Manchester.


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