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

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    According to analysts, early indications are that Republican front-runner faces daunting contest against likely Democratic candidate, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora