NAZIS ON THE RUN
by Yvette Alt Miller
What happened to the Nazis after World War II? How many Nazi officials who sent millions of Jews and others to their deaths paid a penalty? How many Nazis evaded justice and resumed ordinary life, late or never acknowledging their crimes, or paying for the misery they caused?
While the Allies’ Nuremberg Trials judged some high-ranking Nazi officials, and national trials in Germany, Austria, and other countries tried many more, thousands of Nazi soldiers, SS-soldiers and collaborators and sympathizers were never tried. Some simply resumed civilian life. Others — including many high-ranking and infamous Nazi war criminals — were helped in starting new lives — and even assume new identities — by some of the most trusted institutions in Europe after the War.
When Professor Gerald Steinacher was growing up in the picturesque Austrian Tyrol, known for its quaint resorts and Alpine skiing, he heard little about his country’s Nazi past. That began to change in the 1980s, when Kurt Waldheim ran for Austria’s presidency. As he was running for president, many young Austrians were shocked when Waldheim’s wartime activities — which he had managed to keep carefully hidden — came to light. Steinacher decided to become a historian of contemporary history, making studying the Holocaust his profession.
“I wanted to know what happened to Austrian and other Nazis after the War,” Steinacher, now a professor in the United States and author of the ground-breaking book academic Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Justice, told Aish.com. “In Austria, there were not that many people who wanted to know.”
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