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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid