Race against the clock for Germany's top Nazi hunter
STORY: Prowling through row upon row of filing cabinets,
German prosecutor Thomas Will is racing against the clock to find justice for the Holocaust.
Will has been called Germany's top Nazi hunter for his dogged determination..
to secure convictions against the remaining suspects ..
accused of committing atrocities against the Jews during the Second World War.
However, many of those he's seeking to convict are now in their late 90s.
"How much longer our work continues depends on the fact that murder is not subject to a statute of limitations. So as long as perpetrators are still alive, we will pursue the cases.”
Will heads up Germany's Central Office of State Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes.
The organization, founded in 1958, has launched more than 7,600 investigations into World War Two-era crimes.
One recent case is former SS guard - Josef S - who was sentenced to five years in prison last June...
for assisting in the murder of some 3,500 people at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Just in December, a 97-year-old woman who worked as a concentration camp secretary was also convicted.
Will describes that case as one of the last, but a handful remain outstanding and he believes they have a chance of going to trial.
“We currently have five proceedings pending with prosecutors where there is no decision yet on an indictment or a closing of the proceedings. Normally, proceedings are closed because they accused are unable to appear in court. So the five proceedings relating to the concentration camps of Buchenwald, Ravensbrueck, Neuengamme and Sachsenhausen are still ongoing. I am curious myself how it will turn out.”
As survivors of the Holocaust die, there are fears that knowledge of the genocide of six million European Jews across German-occupied Europe could decline or be denied.
Continuing convictions highlight the crimes that took place.
Will says his work also sends the signal to anyone committing such acts today that they will never be off the hook.