Efraim Zuroff addresses the media after filing a complain with Copenhagen Police on Tuesday. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix
As expected, the well-known Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff from the Simon Wiesenthal Center formally filed a police complaint against 90-year-old Helmuth Leif Rasmussen on Tuesday.
Zuroff told Danish media over the weekend that he felt compelled to fly to Denmark and personally file a complaint “since the Danish Justice Ministry isn’t going to do anything”.
The public prosecutor for serious economic and international crime (Statsadvokaten for Særlig Økonomisk og International Kriminalitet – SØIK) said that the complaint would be investigated.
“This is a case that we take very seriously and we will study the report very closely,” prosecutor Morten Niels Jakobsen told news agency Ritzau.
Zuroff came to Denmark to file a complaint against Rasmussen, a former member of the 800-man corps of Danish Nazis known as Free Corps Denmark (Frikorps Danmark), after a book released in October shed new light on the Free Corps’ actions in a prison camp in Belarus during World War II. According the the historians behind the book, Danish Nazis actively participated in the murder of 1,400 Jews at the camp.
Rasmussen has previously spoken about his time as a member of Free Corps Denmark but denied having been a guard at the Belarus prison camp. However, in 1945, the then 20-year-old Rasmussen was questioned by police and admitted to having seen Jews executed while in the camp.
He told Berlingske on Saturday that he was “so old now” and had no reason to lie.
Zuroff told reporters on Tuesday that Rasmussen’s advanced age doesn’t matter.
“These are the last people on earth who deserve any sympathy because they had absolutely no sympathy for their victims,” he said.
“There is certainly enough evidence to warrant an investigation and I don’t see any reason why that investigation shouldn’t be started here by the Danish authorities. Unfortunately the Justice Ministry chose not to deal with this, so therefore I have come to Copenhagen to submit the complaint myself,” Zuroff added.
Zuroff, who serves as the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, said “it will be a victory” if Rasmussen is convicted.
Prosecutor Jakobsen said that SØIK would first determine if any additional information is needed and then would evaluate the merits of a criminal prosecution. He added that Rasmussen was given a prison sentence shortly after the war and that may impact the current case.
“We need to investigate what he was punished for. Clearly one cannot be penalized twice for the same thing,” Jakobsen told Ritzau.