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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs