News / Europe

World's Most Wanted Suspected Nazi War Criminal Dies

Hungarian Laszlo Csatary, suspected of war crimes against Jews during World War II, leaves the prosecution building in Budapest, July 18, 2012.
Hungarian Laszlo Csatary, suspected of war crimes against Jews during World War II, leaves the prosecution building in Budapest, July 18, 2012.
Stefan Bos
A 98-year-old Hungarian man who topped the dwindling list of surviving Nazi war crimes suspects has died in the hospital while awaiting trial for allegedly sending nearly 16,000 Jews to the death camps. The announcement about Laszlo Csatary's death was made on Monday Budapest.

Laszlo Csatary's lawyer said the Nazi war crimes suspect died in the hospital over the weekend after contracting pneumonia. His death came as a setback for Holocaust survivors seeking some justice.

Csatary was allegedly involved in the deportations of as many as 15,700 Jews from a town in present-day Slovakia to Nazi death camps during World War II. After being sentenced to death in absentia in 1948, he made it to Canada, where he lived and worked as an art dealer before being stripped of his citizenship in the 1990s.

He returned to Hungary, where he lived undisturbed for years. Prosecutors only began investigating his case in late 2011 after pressure from the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Csatary was eventually charged with involvement and assisting in the 1944 deportations of Jews from a ghetto in Kassa, now known as Kosice.

The former police officer also allegedly "regularly beat the interned Jews with his bare hands and whipped them with a dog-whip without any special reasons, regardless of their sex, age or health."

Csatary was placed under house arrest in June of last year, and activists demanded he be put on trial.

"We shall never forget," shouted both elderly and younger people outside his home in Budapest while they formed a human chain.

Eventually, a court suspended the trial, saying Csatary had already been convicted.

Some have also questioned whether it was fair to prosecute a frail elderly man.

But Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, believes it's never too late for justice.  His organization wants to continue the hunt for the dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals still alive.
 
“When you look at a man like Csatary, don't see an old frail individual," he said. "Think of someone at the height of his physical powers who was devoting all his energy to the mass murder of innocent people. Old age should not offer protection to people who committed such heinous crimes.”

Zuroff says many Holocaust victims never had the opportunity to become old and frail because they were murdered in Auschwitz and other death camps.

Csatary maintained his innocence to the end. The Csatary case unfolded amid concerns within the influential Catholic Church about rising anti-Semitism in Hungary, which was a close ally of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo has made it a point to participate in the annual Budapest March of the Living to remember the Holocaust, in which 600,000 Hungarian Jews were among the millions of victims.

Questions have also been raised as to why it took prosecutors so long to start a case against Csatary.

Peter Kreko, director of the Political Capital Institute in Budapest, says the reluctance was only partly due to legal difficulties. Kreko told VOA News that the former communist regimes in Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern Europe discouraged those countries from facing their troubled history.

"If a society was not forced to face its past in the last 40 years, it's a difficult job to do afterward, I mean that the acts of facing the past in Germany for example is something that is not very typical for many East European countries that face these problems," he said. "In Hungary, there is a very typical narrative - and I think it exists in other countries, as well - saying: 'We did not play a role in the Holocaust; it was the Germans, or it was the [pro-Nazi Hungarian] Arrow Cross movement."

The analyst adds that Hungarian authorities were extremely cooperative in the procedures of the Holocaust and helping the overall machinery. He says that high-ranking Nazi official Adolf Eichmann labeled Hungary one of his favorite countries in his memoirs because of the cooperation of its pro-Nazi government.

Kreko fears that far-right Hungarians will turn Csatary's grave into a pilgrimage site.

Still, he says most Hungarians view him as a war criminal.

Yet with the number of Holocaust survivors, and Nazis, rapidly dwindling, the analyst and the Jewish community are concerned about whether the lessons of the Holocaust will be adequately taught to future generations.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid