Nazi War Criminals - The Race to Find Them


Countries around the world are still looking for Nazi war criminals. Time, however, is running out. Even the youngest World War II criminals are approaching their final years and some of those who are being hunted may already be dead.

The director of an American agency in charge of tracking down Nazi criminals says that there are still about a thousand suspects on the list. It is a hard job to find out if they are still alive and where they live.

Although the top Nazi criminals, like Adolf Eichmann, escaped to other countries and took on new identities most former Nazis did not hide at all. Instead they took off their uniforms, went home and looked for a new job.

In the years that followed World War II not vey much was done to find them. The Cold War came and the western world was occupied with the communist enemy in the east. Nazis were quickly forgotten. Some of them became agents and spies who worked for western countries against the Soviet Union.


Adolf Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann on trial in Israel

During the 1950s and 1960s there were still about 100,000 who were responsible in some way with the mass killing of Jews. Only a small number have been found and tried. In the 1970s the public started to become more aware of what happened during the Holocaust. Historians and the children of war victims began to ask questions about war crimes.

Even though governments did not do much private investigators worked hard to find them. Simon Wiesenthal founded a Jewish Documentation centre in Austria and helped capture a number of war criminals, including Adolf Eichmann. The organization continues to hunt for Nazis around the globe. In the past 10 years 80 Nazis were found and convicted, about 600 cases are still being examined.


The race to find those left is coming to an end. The youngest criminal on the most wanted list, Josias Kumpf, is 83. He was freed by the Austrian authorities because the law made it impossible to prosecute him. The oldest, Alois Brunner, was born in 1912. He was a commander who brought French Jews to Nazi death camps. Brunner was last seen in Syria, but many experts don’t think he is still alive.

When a war criminal is found he is put before a local court in that country. It decides if he should be extradited to the country in which he committed the crimes but this process can take a long time.



Related Topics




  • agency = organization
  • although = while
  • approach = come near
  • authority = an official government organization
  • aware = to start paying attention to something
  • Cold War = time in which America and the Soviet Union had a bad relationship with each other and their was a danger of war between them
  • convict = to officially say that someone is guilty after a trial
  • examine = look at, study
  • extradite = hand over
  • former = ex- , in the past
  • found – founded = start
  • globe = world
  • Holocaust = the mass killing of millions of Jews during World War II
  • however = but
  • in charge of = responsible for; to have the job of doing something
  • including = also
  • instead = when something else happens
  • investigator = detective
  • mass killing = the killing of millions of people
  • most wanted list = here: list of the people who were the worst criminals
  • occupied = busy doing something else
  • process = action
  • prosecute =to take legal action ; put on trial
  • public = people in general; the population
  • responsible = to blame
  • spy = someone who has the job to find out secret information about another country
  • suspect = a possible war criminal
  • track down = look for someone
  • try = to examine a case in a court
  • victim = a person who suffers