18 December 2008

US: Nazi war criminal files to be made public

The US Justice Department will make public 30 years of US court decisions against Nazi war criminals, according to Yad Vashem, as reported in the December 16 Jerusalem Post.

Other stories covering additional aspects can be seen in other publications, such as Cincinnati Enquirer here, which provided additional information on the case of Aleksandras Lileikis.

The paper had yellowed, its edges frayed. But it clearly bore the signature of Lithuanian policeman Aleksandras Lileikis, ordering a Jewish woman and her 6-year-old daughter to be shot in a Nazi death pit in 1941
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The paper was enough proof to have him deported from the US.

The official press release from the Attorney General can be seen at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum site here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – United States Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced that the U.S. Department of Justice is donating copies of trial transcripts and decisions created in connection with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) of the Justice Department to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. These records were created over the past three decades in connection with OSI’s litigation against United States citizens or residents who were alleged to have participated in acts of persecution in collaboration with the Nazis or their allies.

“While justice for a crime as heinous as the Holocaust can never be truly served, we must work to hold perpetrators of genocide accountable,” says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “They must know that the simple passage of time will not exculpate them of their crimes. This archive stands as a testament to our government’s continued determination not to let genocide go unpunished. We are pleased that the Museum was able to help in several of these cases and that it will be a repository for this important collection.”

This collection is the largest English primary source material on the subject available anywhere, except for records created immediately following WWII.

USHMM assisted OSI with access to documentation microfilmed in archives located in Germany, Eastern Europe, and the FSU. It has provided expert witness testimony and helped in other ways.

The collection includes some 50,000 pages of transcripts covering more than 40 World War II-related cases that OSI litigated to trial as well as the transcripts of hearings in three contested extradition matters in which the OSI participated. The Justice Department is also donating copies of published and unpublished decisions for OSI cases of denaturalization, removal and extradition. The multi-volume set was donated by Thomson Reuters/West Publishing.

Since 1979, the Office of Special Investigations [OSI] has been investigating and prosecuting cases against alleged perpetrators of World War II Nazi crimes of persecution who immigrated to the U.S. It is widely regarded as the most successful law enforcement unit of its kind in the world.

According to the Jerusalem Post, only three copies of the nearly 100 cases will be made and presented to Yad Vashem, USHMM with the third copy retained by the US Department of Justice. The OSI has previously received assistance from both Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

Yad Vashem Archives director Dr. Haim Gertner said some low-profile cases have never been published officially.

Read the three sources at the links above to learn why scholars, historians and the public should be interested in this release.

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