Shvat 6, 5766
Police have opened an
investigation into former Nazi soldiers living in Britain to determine if
any should be investigated for allegedly committing war crimes during
World War II, a legislator said Saturday.
"I have given (police) various names, unaccounted-for SS people who may be in the country, or people living in the U.K. who are worth investigating," said Andrew Dismore, a lawmaker in the governing Labour Party.
He said pursuing suspected war criminals from the past is a good way to deter war crimes in the future.
"These people should never be allowed to sleep easy in their beds. They should know that one day there may be a knock on the door," Dismore said.
The Metropolitan Police said Saturday that its Crimes Against Humanity Unit opened the investigation earlier this year after receiving the legislator's list. The unit is comparing that information with its existing records and liaising with other government departments, including the Home Office, which is responsible for Britain's security, and the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. Police declined to identify the names on the list or say whether they included suspected former Nazi soldiers.
The investigation was first reported Saturday by The Guardian newspaper. It said the eight-member team from an anti-terrorist branch of the Metropolitan Police is examining the backgrounds of British residents who worked in Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine during the war for the 14th Waffen SS Galizien division, which the Nazis had recruited in Ukraine.
After the conflict, more than 8,500 members of the Nazi military division were being held at a prisoner of war camp near Rimini, Italy, when they were brought to Britain, with few questions asked, to work as farm laborers in a war-torn country where much of the population was still in the British armed forces.
The youngest former members of the 14th Waffen SS Galizien division are now in their 80s. If any of them were accused of committing atrocities during the war it could be difficult to find witnesses prepared, or able, to testify against them.
The only person to be convicted in Britain of Nazi war crimes is Anthony Sawoniuk. The retired British Rail ticket collector was jailed for life in 1999, after being convicted of murdering Jews in his hometown of Domachevo,
Belarus, in 1942, while serving in the local Nazi-backed police force.
He died in a prison in eastern England in November at the age of 84.