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Race Against The Clock

Estee Rieder

While the last of the Nazi ranks are living in retirement villages, Nazi hunter Ephraim Zuroff knows his own time is limited. “Operation Last Chance,” where money changes hands for information and clues leading to the capture of the last surviving Nazis, is Zuroff’s last chance as well. He doesn’t deny that his job will soon be over, and is running a marathon against the clock to track down the last of the men who, after sending so many to their deaths, thought they could live their lives out in peace.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The neatly combed, eighty-eight-year-old strolling through the German municipal park on his daily walk didn’t even raise an eyebrow when a reporter from the British Sun stopped beside him, asked his name, and photographed him. The next day, the pastoral picture graced the front page of the Sun. The Sun reporter knew what its readers now know as well — the “Fuhrer’s Laws,” which are still valid, protect Nazi war criminals who unabashedly walks the streets of Germany unhindered.

The old man’s name is Klaus Faber, a native of Holland, who volunteered for the SS in 1940. An advocate of Aryan ideologies, he served in the German intelligence services and the Gestapo. When this elderly gentleman was stationed at the Westerbork concentration camp in Holland, he was responsible for the deportation of the Jews of Holland from the Westerbork camp straight to the crematoria.

Klaus Faber is only fifth on Ephraim Zuroff’s list of wanted Nazi war criminals. Zuroff is one of the few remaining professional Nazi hunters, a profession that is rapidly approaching extinction. Zuroff is the director of the Jerusalem branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the last active Nazi-hunting organization in existence.

Zuroff has named this last ditch attempt to capture Nazis “Operation Last Chance,” which reflects his future as well as those of the criminals. After thirty years of intensive Nazi hunting, Zuroff does not deny the fact that his job will be over in two or three years.

“There are those who call it the ‘biological solution,’ ” he says. “At first I was stunned by the fact that these criminals live to such an old age, but later on I realized that people without a conscience simply live longer. They have no sources of stress to shorten their lives.”

At this point in time, the last of the Nazis are celebrating their ninetieth birthdays and more; the human testimonies are slowly dying out and there’s no doubt that this is indeed the last chance, a historical opportunity that will never recur.

“People usually raise an eyebrow when they hear what I do,” Zuroff says. “ ‘What? There are still Nazi criminals around? We thought they were all dead.’ The truth is that they have not all died at all, and some of them still lead active lives.

“Klaus Faber is the fifth man on my list,” Zuroff says. “He is one of the most evil people still alive. The fact that Germany protects him is a terrible stain on that country’s reputation.” That Faber is eighty-eight hasn’t deterred Zuroff from pursuing him until he succeeds in incarcerating him and taking away his freedom.

“As far as I am concerned, age is not a consideration. Faber, for example, is in excellent condition. Look how he strolls in the park. There’s another criminal, a Hungarian named Sandor Kapiro, whose ID card says he was born in 1914, which makes him ninety-six. So what? The guy runs around Budapest, gives lectures, and organizes parties for his building. He’s even healthy enough to file a libel suit against me.

“When people ask me why I get involved with these old men, I tell them that if I would be chasing after the person who murdered my grandfather, such a question wouldn’t even be relevant. So every one of the murderers I am pursing has murdered someone’s grandfather.

“There are those who tell me that many years have passed and these old men surely regret their actions. I tell them, I’m in this profession for thirty years and I have never encountered a single Nazi who expressed regret or a desire to ask for forgiveness. Never.”


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