More than 60 years after World War II, the hunt for Nazis continues and the Israeli Police are helping to investigate war crimes committed against the Jews during the Holocaust.
The Mossad (Special Operations) stopped the manhunt for Nazi criminals in the 1960s, following the capture and execution of Adolf Eichmann, but the police have continued heeding calls from countries in the world to continue searching for war criminals, especially from police forces in Poland, Lithuania and Russia.
A majority of the Israeli Police efforts include collecting testimonies from Holocaust survivors in Israel and opening up an investigation.
Police officers have also traced documents and have convicted criminals who have exploited Holocaust survivors’ naiveté, swindling them out of their compensation money.
“Despite all the difficulties these investigations involve, we do our best to reach the best results,” said Police commander Amihai Shai, head of the International Crime Investigations Unit. “However, on more than one occasion it transpired that witnesses had died before we reached them.”
The International Crime Unit received four requests for inquests and assistance in investigations in 2006 and three in the previous year.
In July 2006, for example, Poland asked Israel to question 10 Israelis who had allegedly taken part, as partisans, in an attack on a Polish village in January 1944. Several villagers who were suspected as Nazi collaborators were assassinated in the attack. In the meantime, Israel continues to work with a number of European countries.
“The number of inquest files we are asked to assist in has decreased over the years, as many of the victims and perpetrators have died,” said Shai. “In recent years, we have been asked to help trace witnesses to Nazi crimes by various countries wishing to obtain testimonies that could help them indict Nazi criminals, before it is too late to find any witnesses.”