“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 he profiles the hunters — Germans, Americans, Israelis, Poles, French and Austrians — and their prey, the war criminals who managed to create new lives for themselves after the Holocaust.
Nagorski, author of the critically acclaimed “Hitlerland” and former Newsweek bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw and Berlin, knows his stuff.
In a history that reads like an adventure story, he profiles the well-known Nazi hunters such as Wiesenthal, the Mossad agents who captured Eichmann and the public slap of West German Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger administered by ardent activist Beate Klarsfeld, as they tracked down, exposed and in some cases brought to trial the fugitive Nazis, as well as those that worked more behind the scenes to accomplish the same goals. The United States’ Office of Special Investigations exposed 108 former Nazi criminals living here, stripped 86 of their citizenship and deported, extradited or otherwise expelled 67.
It’s been 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz and many have tried to forget the horrors found there, but thanks to books such as “The Nazi Hunters,” the names of Eichmann, Bormann, Hoss, Mengele and Barbie will always remain in our collective memory.
Lee Scott lives in Avondale.