Nazi war criminal Ivan Demjanjuk
Nazi war criminal Ivan DemjanjukReuters

The Simon Wiesenthal Center launched on Tuesday what it is calling “an unprecedented poster campaign” in the streets of major German cities, to publicize its “Operation Last Chance II project,” which offers rewards of up to 25,000 euros for information which will help facilitate the prosecution of war criminals. 

The campaign was launched in the wake of the conviction in Munich of Ivan Demjanjuk for his service as an armed SS guard at the Sobibor death camp.

"Ivan Demjanjuk was the first Holocaust perpetrator to be convicted in Germany in decades solely on the basis of his service in a death camp,” said the Center's chief Nazi-hunter and Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff.

“This conviction paves the way for additional prosecutions of individuals who served in death camps, as well as the members of the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units). Our poster campaign in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne is an appeal to people who can help us identify and/or find these perpetrators while they can still be brought to justice,” he said.

In response to “those who question the value of bringing elderly Nzai war criminals to justice,” Zuroff said that it is important to remember the following points: “1. The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers. 2. Old age should not afford immunity to murderers. 3. Every one of the Nazis' victims deserves that an effort be made to hold their killers accountable. 4. This ongoing effort is a reminder of the importance of Holocaust crimes and a warning to contemporary anti-Semites and racists. 5. These trials are helpful in the ongoing struggle against Holocaust denial and distortion."

The Demjanjuk verdict said that having worked at an extermination camp is enough to establish complicity in murder and set somewhat of a precedent, leading Germany to investigate some 50 suspected ex-Auschwitz guards.