By Emelia Hitchner
The last living remnants of the Holocaust, the notorious Nazi war criminals and those who doggedly hunted them, have all but faded away.
Still, the tales of the monsters and heroes of World War II riddle the pages of history, specifically the books of author and St. Augustine resident Andrew Nagorski.
That’s because the past, Nagorski said, should never be forgotten.
The award-winning journalist’s most recent book, “The Nazi Hunters,” recounts pieces of history otherwise lost in time.
“It has a beginning, it has a middle and now it has an end,” Nagorski said of his latest work.
“The Nazi Hunters” humanizes the men and women who sought justice in the wake of the Holocaust by tracking down and prosecuting high-profile Nazis. In his book, Nagorski describes two kinds of Nazi hunters: official investigators and freelancers, the combination of which pressured governments to eventually address World War II wrongdoing.
The inspiration for Nagorski’s newest work stemmed from his travels as a foreign correspondent for Newsweek. Working in cities throughout Europe, he observed as many countries grappled with their post-war identities.
In many ways, he said, the Nazi hunters brought closure and served as a reminder that soldiers, despite the pressure of military orders, still had the power of choice.
Nagorski said the book required three years of research, the majority of which came from archives and journals.
“It’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to find someone still alive to interview,” he said.
But he said he did manage to secure several interviews with Simon Wiesenthal, one of the most famous Nazi Hunters, before Wiesenthal’s death in 2005.
From Germany to Poland, France to Israel, Nagorski said he sought the remaining survivors of a fast-fading era.
“This will soon be the end of the chapter,” he noted.
Aside from profiling the hunters, Nagorski said a portion of his new book details the post-war lives of Nazi criminals who sought refuge from the past. Eventually, many of their identities were uncovered by the due diligence of the Nazi hunters and even into the last years of their lives, justice would be served.
“This is a story about how the world was reminded of these crimes,” Nagorski said. “And even though it’s history, there’s a lesson that still applies today. No matter what, there’s always a choice. We can always choose to do the right thing.”
Nagorski said he and his wife moved to St. Augustine a year ago, but he still plans on traveling around the world as he gathers research for his next book.
More information on “The Nazi Hunters” as well as Nagorski’s complete bio and links to his other novels can be found at www.andrewnagorski.com.