The Nazi Hunters

After the Nuremberg trials and the start of the Cold War, most of the victors in World War II lost interest in prosecuting Nazi war criminals. Many of the lower-ranking perpetrators quickly blended in with the millions who were seeking to rebuild their lives in a new Europe, while those who felt most at risk fled the continent. The Nazi Hunters focuses on the small band of men and women who refused to allow their crimes to be forgotten—and who were determined to track them down to the furthest corners of the earth.

The Nazi Hunters reveals the experiences of the young American prosecutors in the Nuremberg and Dachau trials, Benjamin Ferencz and William Denson; the Polish investigating judge Jan Sehn, who handled the case of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss; Germany’s judge and prosecutor Fritz Bauer, who repeatedly forced his countrymen to confront their country’s record of mass murder; the Mossad agent Rafi Eitan, who was in charge of the Israeli team that nabbed Eichmann; and Eli Rosenbaum, who rose to head the US Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations that belatedly sought to expel war criminals who were living quietly in the United States. But some of the Nazi hunters’ most controversial actions involved the more ambiguous cases, such as former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim’s attempt to cover up his wartime history. Or the fate of concentration camp guards who have lived into their nineties, long past the time when reliable eyewitnesses could be found to pinpoint their exact roles.

The story of the Nazi hunters is coming to a natural end. It was unprecedented in so many ways, especially the degree to which the initial impulse of revenge was transformed into a struggle for justice. The Nazi hunters have transformed our fundamental notions of right and wrong. Andrew Nagorski’s book is a richly reconstructed odyssey and an unforgettable tale of gritty determination, at times reckless behavior, and relentless pursuit.

“Andrew Nagorski has produced an important work—a well-written and revealing book about the darkest acts of World War II.”—Alan Furst, author of Spies of Warsaw and Kingdom of Shadows “The world failed the victims not only during the Holocaust but afterwards, as perpetrators were allowed to go on… more
Library Journal
Former Newsweek journalist Nagorski, who previously chronicled the Nazis' rise to power in his 2013 work Hitlerland, now turns his attention to the postwar quest to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. In addition to recounting the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, the author provides… more
Overseas Press Club of America
IN 1972, BEATE KLARSFELD flew to La Paz in search of former Nazi Klaus Barbie. Since Barbie was being protected by the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer, Klarsfeld had no power to get the socalled “Butcher of Lyon” arrested or extradited. So she used the powers she did have: bravery, theatricality, and a… more
Glenn C. Altschuler, The Jerusalem Post
Andrew Nagorski writes an exhaustive account of those who continue to go after Nazi war criminals. Seven decades after the end of World War II, at least one Nazi hunter remains active. For a campaign called Operation Last Chance, Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Israel office of the Simon… more
Matt Lebovic, Times of Israel
As Germany closes the book on Shoah-related trials, author Andrew Nagorski probes a seven-decade saga in his new book, ‘The Nazi Hunters’ “One-third detective, one-third historian, one-third lobbyist,” is how Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff described his oft-romanticized “profession” in Andrew Nagorski’s… more
David Walton, The Dallas Morning News
Andrew Nagorski’s The Nazi Hunters comes at a significant point, at the juncture between living memory and the historical record. Death, rather than the courts, now claims the last Nazi criminals — as well as those who labored for decades to bring them to justice. Nagorski has had long experience… more
Lily Rothman, Time
A new book goes inside a chapter of history that's about to end As trials of former Nazis wend their way through the German legal system, as Eliza Gray explores in the latest issue of TIME, everyone involved knows there is only so much time left. Soon, those who stand to be held responsible for the… more
Julia M. Klein, Forward
There is a Zelig-like quality to Andrew Nagorski’s “The Nazi Hunters.” More often than not, in a saga spanning decades and continents, Nagorski has been there, interviewing the men and women pursuing the worst villains of the Holocaust. Many of the stories he recounts, from the long-delayed capture… more
Celeste Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Andrew Nagorski, author of 2012’s Hitlerland, digs into the end of an era in The Nazi Hunters, a historical biography that chronicles the best-known and lesser-known hunters and their hunted more than 70 years after the end of World War II and the closing of Auschwitz and the other concentration… more
Sol Littman, Special to the American Jewish Post
In June 2014, 89-year-old Johann Breyer appeared before a Philadelphia federal judge charged with complicity in the gassing of 216,000 Jews at Auschwitz. American and German investigators presented the court with documents that proved that Breyer, a dedicated SS officer, was a willing participant… more
Frederick Taylor, The Wall Street Journal
Between 1618 and 1648, millions of civilians died from violence, famine and pestilence as armies ranged across Central Europe in a savage conflict about power and religion. When the treaty was signed that ended the Thirty Years’ War, one famous clause granted perpetua oblivio et amnestia (eternal… more
Jonathan Kirsch, The Washington Post
Ten top-ranking Nazis were sent to the gallows in 1946 by the international war crimes tribunal in Nuremberg. Many more escaped justice for decades or forever, some by taking their own lives, some by going into hiding and some merely because all but a few dedicated avengers lost interest in them.… more
Stefan Kanfer, City Journal
A journalist examines the Holocaust’s inhuman perpetrators and their all-too-human pursuers. In 2004, French president Jacques Chirac journeyed to an obscure mountain village. Le Chambon-sur-Lignon was one of a handful of French towns to hide its Jewish residents during the Nazi occupation, and he… more
Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor
Criminals are never beyond the law – but how far should we go in persecuting Nazi officers, guards and soldiers 71 years after the end of World War II? Nagorski's book energetically tells some of the most famous stories of the quest to push against that historical complacency. It's an epic tale, as… more
Lee Scott, Jacksonville Times Union
“I’ve tried to make sure that people don’t forget what happened,” concentration camp survivor and famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal told author Andrew Nagorski in their last conversation before Wiesenthal died in 2005. In his latest history, “The Nazi Hunters,” Nagorski accomplishes that goal as… more
Michael M. Rosen, The Weekly Standard
Seven decades on, holding the Third Reich to account. The death this month of Elie Wiesel left a gaping moral and historical void that widens daily as the ranks of the generation of Holocaust survivors continues to thin. But in The Nazi Hunters, Andrew Nagorski fills that void, blending key… more
Mary Greenwood, The St. Augustine Record
The year 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and other concentration camps that produced the most “astronomical body count in history.” In June, former Auschwitz guard Reinhold Hanning, 94, was convicted of 170,000 counts of accessory to murder and sentenced to five… more
Henryk Grynberg, The American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies
Most Nazi murderers were never charged, and most of those put on trial avoided appropriate sentences. The United States could not punish them for crimes committed somewhere else; its law allowed only deportation to where they came from or where they participated in criminal activities. Ironically,… more
Phyllis Meras, Special to The Providence Journal
The sentencing in Germany this year of a 94-year-old former SS guard at the concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland, and the death in July of Auschwitz survivor and chronicler Elie Wiesel make publication of this book exceptionally timely. Its author is Andrew Nagorski, a onetime Newseek bureau… more
Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs
The last former Nazis are dying out, and so, too, are those whose life’s work was to hunt them down. Nagorski tells their stories evenhandedly, uncovering a fascinating cast of characters from all over the world and placing their efforts in a broader perspective. He describes how Nazi hunters first… more
Wall Street Journal
Andrew Nagorski’s engrossing “The Nazi Hunters” (Simon & Schuster, 393 pages, $30) is the story of the men and women—very different and often at odds with one another—who after 1945 pursued the architects and the executors of the Holocaust. At first they were spurred by a simple thirst for… more
La Razon, Marta Torres
Con los grandes nombres del aparato nazi condenados en los juicios de Nuremberg, los gobiernos vencedores perdieron interés por apresar a los restantes. No todos tenían puestos oficiales. Unos simplemente lo hicieron porque consideraban que era lo justo. Para otros, se trataba de un encargo directo… more
Bob Wefald
With the end of World II in Europe in 1945, the extent of the mass murders committed by the Germans led by the Nazis became known, resulting in the trials in Nuremberg, Germany, of some of the Germans responsible for the implementation of Hitler’s “Final Solution,” the plan to kill all of the Jews… more


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