March 10, 1998 in Nation/World

Stalled By Indifference, Nazi-Hunters Contend

Associated Press

German efforts to track down former Nazis who receive government disability payments have been stymied by other countries’ failure to cooperate, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Monday.

Germany’s Labor Ministry has asked justice officials in 11 countries to cross-reference their records with German lists of pension recipients, but only the United States and Britain are doing so, said the center’s European director, Shimon Samuels.

“We find the incredible unresponsiveness of nine of the 11 governments to which this ministry addressed lists … quite mind-boggling,” he said at a joint news conference with Labor Minister Norbert Bluem.

Only countries with at least 300 listed pension recipients were notified.

Some countries that were occupied by Nazi Germany, such as Belgium and Luxembourg, have reacted indignantly to the allegation that they have former Nazis or collaborators, center officials said. Samuels also cited Italy, France and Argentina as not being cooperative.

Key to the effort is Germany’s decision last November to stop disability payments to veterans of Adolf Hitler’s army who committed crimes “against the rule of law or against humanity.”

Based on the law, Germany is going over lists of 996,000 people who receive the pensions, including about 33,000 outside Germany, and comparing them with the Wiesenthal Center’s list of suspects.

© Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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