| As the site of all six Nazi death camps, Poland was the country in which the
majority of European Jewry were murdered by the Germans and their
collaborators during the Holocaust. In addition millions of non-Jewish
Poles were persecuted and murdered during the Nazi occupation.
Although Poland suffered terrible losses during World War II,
there were numerous Poles who assisted the Nazis in the implementation
of the Final Solution and therefore it is only natural for the
Wiesenthal Center to initiate “Operation: Last Chance” in Poland
in order to help facilitate the prosecution of those responsible
for Nazi crimes in that country.
In that context, it is important to note
the important work already being done by the Institute of National
Memory under the leadership of its president Prof. Dr. Leon
Kieres. Since the establishment of the Institute, Poland has
made significant progress in the investigation and prosecution
of Nazi war criminals, especially in comparison to other post-Communist
and post-Soviet countries. Thus the conviction in 2001 of Henryk
Mania for crimes committed at the Chelmno death camp and the
recent investigation of the murder by the local population
of the Jews of Jedwabne are concrete examples of the existence
of political will in Warsaw to investigate the cases of Holocaust
perpetrators and bring them to justice, and the ability of
the Institute to do so successfully.
The Center expects to work together with
the Institute to help maximize the prosecution of Nazi war
criminals and is hopeful that the results achieved by “Operation:
Last Chance” in Poland will expedite the efforts of the Institute.
To help achieve those goals, the Center has maintained close
cooperation with Prof. Dr. Kieres and his staff and hopes that
this cooperation will be enhanced by the successful implementation
of “Operation: Last Chance” in Poland