Work of tracking down Nazi criminals not done yet, says agency head

The hunt for Nazi war criminals continues unabated, even if the war ended more than 70 years ago, the head of Germany's central office for investigating Nazi crimes tells dpa.

"We'll never get every case closed," Jens Rommel said. "But we're still not aware of all the crimes, which means we certainly don't know who all the criminals are."

That means the agency's workers continue to pore over archives around the world cataloguing the crimes of the Nazi government, which was responsible for starting World War II and annihilating millions of people, primarily Jews, in European territory it conquered.

Rommel, who just started the job in December, said the justice ministers of Germany's 16 states recently decided that the agency should continue the work it started in 1958. He said, at some point, those ministers will have to decide when the investigative work will end and when the centre will become a documentation and archival centre.

"Whatever duration the ministers are considering, I wouldn't dare say," he said.

Rommel did note that the time is rapidly coming where it will no longer be able to find living defendants to prosecute. When that point comes, the legal part of the agency's work will have to end.

But Germany just saw 94-year-old Oskar Groening convicted in July of aiding in the murder of 300,000 people during the war, earning him four years in jail. Another former SS officer faces charges of assisting in 170,000 deaths when his trial begins in 2016.

The Groening case will also continue to occupy the agency, since an appeal is still being weighed. A ruling will hinge much on a decision about how complicit Groening was in the deaths.

Such cases show that there is still work to be done, Rommel said.

"Those are, naturally, our mandate, especially for the coming years."

Last update: Sat, 02/01/2016 - 08:04

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