The Lublin-Maidanek Complex and Austrian Justice

The Austrian Central Research Center for Postwar Justice is carrying out a project in 2009/2010 concerning the involvement of Austrians in perpetrating crimes in the Maidanek concentration camp and their juridical prosecution.

The question of the involvement of Austrian perpetrators in Nazi war crimes has led to numerous disputes both in Austria and abroad. Austria has been criticized, especially for not undertaking enough to track down Nazi perpetrators and bring them to justice .

Recently the case of Erna Wallisch, a former guard n the Maidanek concentration camp who was living in Vienna, raised public attention. During the investigations against Wallisch, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice entrusted the Research Center for Postwar Justice the assignment of assessing from a historical research point of view the potential possibility of the criminal prosecution of Nazi war crimes committed in the Majdanek concentration camp.

Unlike Auschwitz and Mauthausen—the other two concentration camps where Austrians made up a significant part of the security guards—no Austrian criminal proceedings concerning Maidanek ended with a conviction. The juridical investigation against more than 50 defendants which took place in the 1960s and 1970s in Graz ended with the suspension of the proceedings.

The goal of the research undertaking of the Research Center is to analyze the process and results of the Austrian proceedings regarding the clarification and punishment of the perpetrators in the Majdanek concentration and extermination camp and compare them with the proceedings conducted in Poland and Germany.

Furthermore the testimony of surviving prisoners is to be inspected—in court records as well in collections of interviews of survivors in the USA and Israel. The goal is to find persons who would be able to act as witnesses in a potential Austrian Maidanek court case. It is also planed to invite survivors of the Majdanek concentration camp to a meeting concerning the role of eye witnesses in the investigation of war crimes in Nazi concentration camps.

The results of the research project scheduled over one and a half years will be presented to the public in the form of a publication and a conference.

Appeal for Cooperation