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And they committed those crimes when they were in their 20s or 30s; now they are old men (and a few women), approaching 90 or even past it, who have spent long lives as civilians, working at ordinary jobs and raising families.Nor is the Wiesenthal Center empowered, like a government, to apprehend and try suspects.The most Zuroff can do is identify war criminals and bring legal and public pressure to bear on the governments that had sheltered them, wittingly or unwittingly, for so long.Operation Last Chance itself depended on offering a ,000 reward to anyone with information “that could lead to the arrest, trial, conviction, and punishment of a Nazi war criminal.” Turning in a great-grandfather for the reward money is a far cry from the Mossad’s intrepid capture of Eichmann, and it is natural to wonder if this last-ditch campaign is worth the effort.” Erna Wallisch, a guard at Majdanek, was remembered for beating prisoners to death, including children, even while she herself was visibly pregnant.
Crimes like these cry out to heaven for punishment, and it seems like a kind of blasphemy to ignore them simply because they happened too long ago.He did not yet know anything about Eichmann’s crimes, or much abut the Holocaust in general, but he remembers that “the idea of Jews catching one the big criminals and putting him on trial in Jerusalem sounded very exciting….[T]he story made a strong impression on me, and it was the first time that the Holocaust penetrated my consciousness.The first is that, as he writes, “the practical implication of a chronological limit of prosecution is that if a person is rich enough, lucky enough, and/or smart enough to escape justice until they reach that age, they will never be held accountable for their crimes, which is a terrible travesty of justice.” It makes no sense to reward a criminal for successfully concealing his crime, especially when the crime is as unspeakably evil as the ones Zuroff writes about.This is the book’s second, largely implicit argument: that the crimes of the Holocaust, unlike ordinary felonies or even murders, are so monstrous that they cannot be canceled by a statute of limitations.Witnesses and survivors were still available to testify against him; no less crucially, the criminal himself was still recognizably the same man who had committed the crimes.