The Shmooze

New Documentary Tracks New Zealand’s Nazi Criminals

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
Wikimedia Commons

A new documentary film is telling the story of the unfruitful efforts to bring Nazi war criminals in New Zealand to justice. According to Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “New Zealand was the only Anglo-Saxon democracy that faced this problem and chose to ignore it. There was absolutely no political will to take legal action against the Nazi war criminals who emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1940s and early 1950s, posing as refugees fleeing communism.”

According to a report in Stuff, a New Zealand news website, a two-year police and government task force investigation in the early 1990s yielded not a single prosecution, despite a comprehensive file prepared and handed over by the Wiesenthal Center on more than 40 Nazis believed to have been hiding in the country.

The investigation managed to identify 17 suspected Nazi war criminals known to be living in New Zealand. Fifteen were cleared and two were further investigated, but no further action was taken.

One of the people in the Wiesenthal Center’s file was an Aukland resident named Jonas Pukas, who was in the 15th Lithuanian Police Battalion, which massacred Jews in 1941 and 1942. He was never charged with war crimes, despite having told police investigators that “the Jews ‘screamed like geese’ as they were being shot.” Pukas died at age 80 in 1994.

The film, directed by New Zealander John Keir, will be screened next year in New Zealand. In the meantime, the Wiesenthal Center is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Nazi war criminals through its Operation Last Chance.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Simon Wiesenthal Center, Operation Last Chance, New Zealand, Nazis, John Keir

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.