Saturday, 27 October 2007
Former Nazi concentration camp guard, Erna Wallisch, 85, was photographed last week by British historian Guy Walters at her home in Vienna, Austria.
Wallisch declined to comment on her time at Ravensbruck and Majdanek concentration camps from 1942 to 1944. The Simon Wiesenthal Institute lists Wallisch at its seventh most wanted Nazi war criminal, and she is currently wanted by Poland for crimes against humanity. She is said to have acted with the utmost cruelty towards prisoners, and she is also alleged to have taken part in escorting them to the gas chambers at Majdanek.
Although she admitted to her crimes in the 1960s and 1970s, the Austrian government refuses to try Wallisch because her actions are regarded in that country as being 'passively complicit' in the Holocaust. As a result, she continues to live as a free woman.
"I do not find the Austrian attitude surprising," said Mr Walters. "For too long, the Austrians have been unacceptably lenient with these evil men and women in their midst. I suspect their reluctance to confront these criminals is because it would only highlight the extent of Austrian complicity with Nazism."
Efraim Zuroff, head of the Wiesenthal Centre's 'Operation Last Chance' said recently: "It is unthinkable that a person who was part of the mass murder of at least thousands of innocent civilians should be protected by Austrian law, and we therefore urge the Polish authorities to try to achieve justice in this case."
The Austrian Justice Ministry has stated that it is planning to commission a report on those who committed crimes at Majadanek, with a view to prosecuting Wallisch if new evidence is found.
“Frau Wallisch is an old woman, and these reports always take time,” said Walters. “It is highly likely that she will live out her days untroubled by the authorities. The problem is that too many in Austria believe these events to belong in history books. This is nonsense. Frau Wallisch is not history – she is still alive, and it is our generation's responsibility to prosecute those whom she helped consign to history prematurely.”
Click to view image: '112710-Wallisch01.jpg'
Tags: nazi, concentration camp, war crimes, auschwitz, majdanek, ravensbruck, world war two, second world war, wwii, wiesenthal, austria, vienna, wallisch, gas chambers, war
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