Monday, May 2, 2011

Sweden Cited for Failing to Pursue Nazi War Criminals

This morning, on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office states that nine nations have failed to prosecute known Nazis. A last global push was begun in 2002 to bring Nazis to justice, wherever they may have found refuge. Nations which ignored the call for justice include Syria, Austria and Lithuania. Of the nine, two have legislation which blocks prosecution. Both Sweden and Norway have a 25-year statute of limitations for criminal prosecution.  This law has effectively given Swedish and Norwegian Nazis and their collaborators a free pass since the 1970s.
In a previous statement, Zuroff remarked:
-“There are two European countries where we cannot investigate or prosecute Nazi criminals. In Norway and Sweden there is a statute of limitations on murder of twenty-five years. Even if Heinrich Muller, the head of the Gestapo, were to surface in one of these countries, we would not be able to do anything about it."
Although the Swedes were technically neutral during WWII, the Swedes sold war materials to the Germans.  Sweden harbored active collaborators with the Nazis after the war. Swedish Queen Sylvia’s German father was a member of the Nazi party, and produced weapons at a Berlin factory confiscated from a German Jew. Several hundred Swedes served as volunteers in the SS.
Zuroff says that these countries “refuse in principle to investigate, let alone prosecute, suspected Nazi war criminals because of legal (statute of limitation) or ideological restrictions.”
Legislation is flexible—if Sweden and Norway had wanted to make an exception to the statute of limitations for Holocaust crimes, the legislature could have modified the law. The fact that there was no will to do so is significant.  This failure to pursue Nazi war criminals has its parallel today in the lack of will to act effectively against hate crime targeting Jews in Sweden today.
By Chanah Shapira

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