Austria accused of 'lacking political will' to prosecute Holocaust criminals

Austria accused of 'lacking political will' to prosecute Nazis

Nazi soldiers are seen lined up in a camp. Austria has fallen short in its efforts to bring Nazi criminals to justice, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A leading Jewish NGO has accused Austria of "shortcomings" in its efforts to prosecute Nazi war criminals, a day before the official Holocaust memorial day.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose activities include hunting down the last surviving Nazis, has released an annual report on global efforts to bring Nazi criminals to justice.

In this year's report, Germany's efforts to bring criminal charges against Nazi offenders have been praised - but Austria's response has been heavily criticised.

The report reveals that between April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016, German authorities brought action against 42 people, and a total of 1163 cases are currently ongoing in Germany - over two-thirds of the overall global total.

However Austria's efforts are criticised because neither of the two major investigations launched in the 12 months to March 31, 2016 yielded "concrete results" and both suspected criminals are now deceased - one having died as early as 2001. The other is an offender who was thought to have been involved in the Nazis' euthanasia program. 

The report said: "The fact that "not a single Nazi war criminal had been condemned by an Austrian court over a period of more than forty years" shows a "lacking political will to prosecute Nazi criminals."