Poland has requested aid from the Interpol in locating 1,600 Nazi war criminals prosecutors believe committed crimes in its territory during World War II, Germany’s Deutsche Welle has reported.
Most of the cases surround mass executions of Polish citizens and acts against villages under Nazi occupation, as well as acts committed during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising by the Polish resistance (not to be confused with the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising).
“We finally have to deal comprehensively with the mass murder that was committed in German concentration camps,” State Prosecutor Robert Janicki said. “It is a state prosecutor’s duty to find perpetrators and bring them to justice, and we want to see if it is still possible to find Nazi war criminals today.”
The 1,600 names were selected from a list of 23,000 SS members who worked in concentration camps.
“We are not randomly looking for people who may have committed crimes,” Janicki said. “We are looking for specific individuals. We have evidence against them and have exact information as to their names and what their roles were at the camps.”
Prosecutors have submitted 400 names to the international police organization in a request for assistance in locating the accused, and plan to provide 1,200 others in the near future.
Most of the suspects are German, though there are others from Austria, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Polish officials hope the German push in recent years to prosecute those suspected of atrocities during the Holocaust will lead to greater cooperation from Berlin than was possible in past decades — attempts by Warsaw to prosecute German individuals during the 1960s and 1970s was met with reluctance by the West German government.
The new prosecutorial push comes as Poland finds itself embroiled in controversy over a new bill that would outlaw publicly attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany to the Polish nation.
The United States has joined Israel in criticizing the proposed law, saying it would infringe on free expression. Israeli and Jewish groups fear it would be used to whitewash the involvement of some Poles in killing Jews during the 1939-1945 occupation.