Germany's Effort to Bring the Last Living Nazis to Justice

The German Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes only has a few years left to track down and prosecute the last living Nazis before its funding is cut off and its office is converted into a memorial archive.

The office headed by Jens Rommel, the chief public prosecutor who heads the Central Office, has embarked on 20 expeditions to South America, to Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, and Argentina, looking for names and dates, for anyone who would have been old enough to serve in the German forces and who might still be alive.

“We are the last to look at these historic events not as history, but as crimes,” Rommel says. A practiced homicide investigator, Rommel has transformed the way the Central Office searches for offenders, sending his team not just to South America but also to lesser-known concentration camps around Germany. In 2016 alone, Rommel sent 30 cases to German prosecutors—each one containing information about a living Nazi whom his office could prove was complicit in a WWII crime.

Journalist Linda Kinstler's project chronicles Germany’s final effort to find and prosecute Nazi officials around the world, following Rommel’s team on their last expedition to South America, in Buenos Aires, as well as on trips to concentration camps around Germany and to their headquarters in Ludwigsburg. 

On the Ground with the Last Nazi Hunters

Kinstler traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Ludwigsburg, Germany, to observe the work of Central Office prosecutors, who scour archives in the pursuit of sorely belated justice.

Germany: The Last Nazi Hunters

Since 1958, a handful of German government prosecutors have sought to bring members of the Third Reich to trial. But the world’s biggest cold-case investigation will soon be shut down