13 September 2003
The director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, is in Romania to search for ex-Nazis who committed crimes against Jews during the years the country was under Nazi control. Efraim Zuroff wants to bring one-time Nazis to justice and to force the country to face its Nazi past.
The leading Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, is bringing to Romania the center's "Operation Last Chance," a campaign originally introduced to expose war criminals in the Baltics.
Officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center say the operation has already uncovered over 240 suspected war criminals in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Ukraine.
Mr. Zuroff told a news conference in Bucharest, Romania has serious problems in dealing with its past. He cited recent comments made by government officials who denied that Jews were singled out for persecution during the Nazi years.
Records show, however, that about half of the 750,000 Jews in Romania died during World War II. Under war-time leader Marshal Ion Antonescu, Romania became a staunch ally of Nazi Germany.
Antonescu himself was tried and executed as a war criminal, but continues to be seen by many Romanians as a hero.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the prosecution of Romanian war criminals.