Tens of thousands of Nazi war crime suspects illegally receiving pensions
Written by Talya Misiri
Tens of thousands of Nazi war crime suspects have been able to continue to receive disability pensions regardless of a law passed that revoked this right, the Associated Press has reported.
According to a review commissioned by the German Labour Ministry and published on Tuesday, the Associated Press understands that only 99 individual's pensions out of around 50,000 Nazi suspects have lost their pension payments.
A law was passed in 1998 with the expectation that up to 50,000 people would lose their right to their pensions, the report said.
The review confirmed that factors including the sheer scale of reviewing tens of thousands of cases, the lack of digitisation of key files, legal challenges and in some cases apathy in implementing the law led to the breaking of it.
While only 99 individuals’ pensions have been revoked, the research, which covered the years from 1998 to 2013 found that no more war criminals had been removed to date.
“The results are incredibly disappointing. I never thought in my worst nightmares that the number would be so low,” Simon Wiesenthal Center Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff told the Associated Press.
The Labour Ministry also highlighted to the publication that the review indicated that the expectations by the 1998 law “have certainly not been fulfilled” but the withdrawal of disability pensions “is still possible in the future”.
Following the Second World War, West Germany approved special pensions for “victims of war”, for which 4.4 million people qualified for the payments. Qualifying individuals varied from injured civilians to SS death camp guards and their dependents.
However, in 1998 this led to considerable outrage among many Jewish citizens and other Nazi victims who were not receiving compensation, while possible war criminals were. As a result, the law was altered to prohibit any person who had committed “crimes against the principles of humanity or the rule of the law”.
Once the law was passed, the Wiesenthal Center, under contract from the government, provided over 70,000 names of war crime suspects to the Labour Ministry to be checked against pension payments.
The new analysis into this was mostly compiled and written by German historian Stefan Klemp who assisted in composing the Wiesenthal Center’s list.