The French government has joined Nazi hunters and Jewish groups to call on prosecutors in Hungary to arrest Ladislaus (Laszlo) Csizsik-Csatary, 97, for his role in organizing the deportation of 15,700 Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz. “We believe that Nazi criminals, wherever they are, must answer for their acts before justice,” a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Paris was quoted by the ‘Daily Telegraph’ newspaper as saying.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, also called for Csizsik-Csatary’s arrest: “The Hungarian Government has a moral responsibility to do all it can to find and arrest this man as if he murdered thousands of people today. His age should be of no consideration. If someone today is suspected of causing the murder of thousands of people then no expense would be spared to bring them to justice, the same resources should be used in this case.”
Csizsik-Csatary, who tops the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s most-wanted list of the Nazi war criminals, was last weekend discovered living peacefully in Budapest under his own name. The Simon Wiesenthal Center found Csizsik-Csatary as part of its “Last Chance” project, said Efraim Zuroff, director of the center’s Israel office.
Using the last name Csizsik, he arrived in Canada in 1949, telling immigration officials he was Yugoslavian, according to the ‘Toronto Star’. He left Canada when he was unmasked by war crimes investigators in 1995. Csizsik-Csatary had fled Europe at the end of the war after being sentenced to death in absentia in 1948 by a Czechoslovakian court for crimes committed while he was police chief from 1941 in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary.
Csizsik-Csatary had been “a commander of a ghetto,” Zuroff told CNN. “We found eyewitnesses on three different continents,” the Nazi hunter added. Those witnesses told the center about Csizsik-Csatary’s cruelty to Jewish detainees and his role in the deportations to Auschwitz and Ukraine.
Csizsik-Csatary allegedly beat women with a whip he carried on his belt and forced them to dig holes with their bare hands. During the war, he organized deportations of thousands of Jews to death camps in Nazi occupied Eastern Europe.
Csizsik-Csatary has officially been under investigation by the Hungarian authorities since 11 September 2011 and is locally reported as having been under police surveillance since April. A Hungarian spokesman said: “The government has always supported the exhaustive exploration of past crimes and the prosecution of perpetrators.”
On Monday, Jewish students in Budapest demanded his immediate arrest. “We are proud to do our part in bringing the world’s attention to this evil man and his horrific crimes,” said Andi Gergely, the head of the European Union of Jewish Students.