July 2002  
  Why “Operation: Last Chance” Is Being Launched in the Baltics?

  There are numerous reasons why the Baltics were chosen as the initial place to implement “Operation: Last Chance.” While several relate to the specific nature of the events of the Holocaust in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, others are a product of practical and technical considerations. The most important are the following:

1. These countries had the highest victimology rate in Europe during the Holocaust. Not only were the local Jewish communities almost completely annihilated but many thousands of Jews from other countries (Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and France) were deported to the Baltics and murdered in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
2. The extremely large number of local collaborators who actively participated in the mass murder of the local Jewish communities and Jews deported to these countries.
3. The fact that local police units from each of the Baltic countries were sent abroad, where they actively participated in the mass murder of Jews (especially in Belarus and Poland.)
4. Following the occupation of the Baltics by the Soviet Union in 1944, many Nazi war criminals were prosecuted and convicted by the Soviet authorities. These individuals can testify regarding crimes committed during the Holocaust that they personally witnessed without fear of prosecution
5. The fact that there has not been a single prosecution of a local Nazi war criminal – in which the defendant was healthy enough to attend the trial and bear punishment if convicted – in any of the three Baltic countries makes the efforts to bring the guilty to justice of unique significance for Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian society.
6. With all three countries on the verge of being invited to join NATO and the European Union, there will be special interest in the attitude of the Baltic republics to this important subject.