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May 04, 1984 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-05-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

42

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BY HEIDI PRESS
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"The Hitler experience can't be
accepted by us, the German people,
as an historic accident.
"As a reunified German, I must
accept the responsibility (of the
Nazis' atrocities against the Jews).
"I am not looking for martyrdom.
I try to assume these responsibilities
by actions or speeches."
Beate Klarsfeld, self-styled Nazi
hunter, spoke Wednesday of her
motivation in tracking down untried
Nazis. She spoke at the annual
Woman's World luncheon of the
Cong. Shaarey Zedek Sisterhood.
Speaking to nearly 600 guests at
the luncheon, the daughter of a Third
Reich official said it is the memories
of mothers and children who lost
their lives at the hands of the Nazis
that "prevent me from giving up" her
self-appointed task to bring Nazi war
criminals to trial.
She and her husband, Serge, a
French Jewish lawyer whose father
died in the concentration camps,
gather the original German docu-
ments, bearing the war criminals'
signatures, to use as evidence. In the
case of Klaus Barbie, the notorious
"Butcher of Lyon," the Klarsfelds
came across a Telex communication
signed by Barbie ordering the depor-
tation of 41 Jewish children from
Izieu, France. That document, she
said, Was the main piece of evidence
used against Barbie.
The Klarsfelds travel through-
out the world to publicize the exist-
ence of Nazi war criminals who are
still living free, comfortable lives.
Rather than print advertisements,
Mrs. Klarsfeld takes a more dramatic
tack. In 1969, she publicly slapped
former German Chancellor Kurt
Kiesinger, calling him "Nazi" and
"criminal" as he addressed the Ger-
man Parliament.
In another action, Mrs. Klarsfeld
and some aides tried to kidnap ex-
Gestapo chief Kurt Lischka, but the
attempt failed. Still she got the
necessary publicity for her cause.
In January, she was jailed in
Chile after she, some young Jews and
relatives of Argentine "disappeared
ones" demonstrated twice in front of
the home of Walter Rauff, who di-
rected the extermination of 97,000
Jews via moblo gas chambers. She
and her comrades were jailed but re-
leased because, she said, the Chilean
police had no reason to hold them.
The Klarsfelds have faced bomb
threats, her husband Serge has been
beaten up and their car has been'
blown up, but still they persist in
what Mrs. Klarsfeld calls a "struggle
for justice" — to bring the Nazis to
trial.
The two are not hampered by
these warnings to desist. If we give
up, no one will take over. It is impor-
tant to keep reminding the world

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what happened 40 years ago."
Asked if she thought the
plethora of Holocaust memoirs,
films, books and other material ,.
were making a business of the rMt
minders of the sufferings of the vic-
tims, Mrs. Klarsfeld thought not.
"Anything is necessary" to keep
the memory of the Holocaust alive,
she said, especially in the case of the
revisionists who proclaim that the
Holocaust didn't happen.
She added that the Holocaust is
easier to commemorate," but to go
where the criminals are living pro-
ved to be more "useful" to her cause.
She is currently collecting data
on Dr. Joseph Mengele, the infamous
"Angel of Death" at Auschwitz, and
Alois Brunner, henchman of Adolf
Eichmann who was responsible for
the deportation of hundreds of
thousands of Jews from Austria,
Greece, France and Czechoslovakia.
On Mengele, she said she and
Serge had hit an impasse. They have
evidence that Mengele resides of
Paraguay even though he lost his
Paraguayan citizenship after Ger-
many requested his extradition. Yet,
when they approach Paraguayan
leader Alfredo Stroessner for his ex-
tradition, they are told Mengele is
gone.
She was skeptical of Stroessner's
story. Because of Mengele's age, late
70s or early 80s, he needs a stable
place" in which to live. His protec-
tion goes high up. Why would he
leave a safe haven?"
She called Stroessner's pledge to
extradite Mengele "promises in the
air. We know quite well that Stroess-
ner protects him."
In the case of Brunner, it was
Klarsfeld who made the trip to pub-
licize the former SS officials's exist-
ence. Klarsfeld flew to Syria to try to
obtain his arrest and extradition, but
two years later, Brunner is still hid-
ing in Syria.
Not only are the Klarsfelds
actively involved in hunting down
ex-Nazis, but they also are working
toward combatting anti-Semitism.
"We show our solidarity with Israel
and the Jewish people by protesting
anti-Semitism. It is my moral obliga-
tion to protest against anti-Semitism
in Communist countries."
Asked what she hoped to accom-
plish in the next ten years in her hunt
for war criminals, Mrs. Klarsfeld
said she hoped to achieve her goals in
three or four years. Because of the
advanced age of the ex-Nazis still liv-
ing in freedom, "something has to be
done, and it has to be done fast."
The Klarsfelds' activities have
not gone unrecognized. In 1977, she
was proposed as Nobel Peace Prize
candidate. Last week, her husband
was awarded the Legion d'Honneur

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