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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 24, 2012 By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA) Trained by life in surmounting grief, Marika Weinberger focuses on the silver lining in the recent decision in Budapest not to try Hungarian war criminal Laszlo Csatary in connection with the murder of her nine uncles in 1941. "At least now I won't need to testify and relive the pain," Weinberger, 84, told JTA in a phone interview from her home in Sydney, Australia. She says she is nonetheless prepared to do %verything necessary to bring Csatary to justice." Weinberger claims that Csatary, aformerpolice officer who was' arrested last month in Budapest, was responsible for deporting her uncles to a killing site in Ukraine. Yet prosecutors in Budapest two weeks ago dismissed her claims without ever speak- ing to her. raising concerns by Weinberger and others about the seriousness of the investigation. The Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia has called publicly for Csatary's extradition to that country based on information it claims to have that points to Csatary taking p~operty from Jews in Kosice. a city in eastern Slo- vakia. Those charges also are being investigated, says Martin Kornfeld. the federation's CEO. Kornfeld adds that he has no indication that alleged acts Creative Commons Efraim Zuroff, above, tracked down alleged war criminal Laszlo Csatary in Budapest, but with the dis- missal of some of the charges against Csatary, a Hungarian lawyer called for the indict- ment of Zuroff. of cruelty by Csatary to Jewish prisoners were being investi- gated. He notes that the acts were addressed in Csatary's 1948 conviction in absentia by a Czechoslovakian court for torturing prisoners at Kosice. The office of Budapest's chief prosecutor. Dr. Zsolt Grim. did not respond to inter- view requests for this article. According to Weinberger, her father told her that Csatary had organized the deportation of her mother's nine brothers from Kosice on Aug. 19. 1941. Her testimony was part of the file that the Simon Wi- esenthal Center had prepared on Csatary that led to his ar- rest last month. The center's research implicates Csatary in the deportation of 300 people from Kosice in 1941 and an- other 15,700 in 1944. Csatary was arrested after London's The Sun newspaper published an expose about him. Csatary had fled to Canada in 1949 after the Czech court sentenced him in absen- tiato death for war crimes. He returned to Hungary in the 1990s after Ottawa revoked his citizenship. Two weeks ago, the Bu- dapest Prosecutor's Office dismissed Weinberger's testi- mony and dropped the charges from 1941. saying Csatary was not in Kosice at the time and lacked the rank to organize the transports. The Hungar- ian prosecution team is said to be continuing to probe allegations pertaining to the allegations from 1944. Weinberger, a former vice president of the Sydney Jewish Museum and a past president of the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants. stands by her story. "I was young, but I remem- ber the name Csatary," she said. "It surfaced when my father was trying to find out what happened to my uncles." Weinberger says she even recalls the weather on the night of the deportation. adding that. "l remember it better than I remember what happened yesterday." suspicions According to Weinberger, her father found out that on Csatary's orders, four of her uncles were recalled from forced labor to Kosice for de- portation with her remaining five uncles and another 300 people. "To think that Csatary went to all that trouble to have them murdered," she said. "No one bothered to ask me what I know. Now he's off the hook." As the conversation pro- gresses, the memories shake Weinberger's determination to look at the glass as half full. "It's a big disappointment." she acknowledged. "I was re- cently very ill and I thought I wouldn't live much longer, but I drew solace from know- ing that the man who killed my uncles would be brought to justice." Quickly regaining her com- posurL she says, "Actually, I'm not surprised they dropped the charges. I'm sure theywould've found a way to ignore my tes- timony even had they agreed to hear it." Weinbergerwas deported to Auschwitz in 1944 along with other farfiily members. Only she. her sister and an aunt survived the Holocaust. The dropping of charges pertaining to 1941 "and other points" lead Kornfeld. the Slo- vakia Jewish federation's CEO. to believe that "Hungarian authorities are trying to avoid a decision on Csatary in court and are trying to find points that make the trial positive for Csatary." What is known is that in 1944, at the age of 29, Csatary owned a large house in one of Kosice's most affluent neigh- borhoods one that Kornfeld says was well beyond his sal- ary at the police force. By the end of World War II, Kornfeld adds, Csatary also owned a foreign-made luxury car that few Czechs could afford. "Our ol~inion is that it looks like Csatary tookalot of money and/or property from Jews from Kosice and that this was [used as] part of his business in Canada," where Csatary was an art dealer. Kornfeld says. Meawhile. Efraim Zuroff, the New York-born Nazi hunter who tracked down Csatary in Budapest, says he is "'very perturbed to learn that no one from the prosecution had spoken to" Weinberger. He adds, "This dismissal raises questions about the objectivity of prosecutors." The dismissal has Zuroff, di- rector of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israel office, facing challenges of his own related to the case. Citing the dismissal, awell- known Hungarian lawyer this week called on the Budapest Prosecutor's Office to indict Zuroff. Futo Barnabas told the conservative newspaper Mag- yar Nemzet that. "There are now valid grounds to cha~'ge Zuroff with deliberately mak- ing a false accusation." The charge, which is meant to discourage libelous com- plaints, carries a five-year prison sentence in Hungary. It is not uncharted territory for Zuroff. Lastyear, a Hungar- ian court summoned him to answer libel accusations lev- eled at him by Sandor Kepiro, a suspected wai" criminal whom Zuroff had exposed. Zuroffwas found not guilty; Kepiro stood trial in Hungary and was acquitted last year. The acquittal was appealed~ but Kepiro died lastSeptember before the start of the new proceedings. Peter Feldmajer, president of Hungary's Federation of Jewish Communities, says that indicting Zuroff for accusing Csatary "would be an act of insanity." "It is for a court to deter- mine whether accusations are justified," he said of the charges against Csatary. "To try someone for accusing a convicted war criminal of de- porting Jews, this is madness." Zuroff stands by his work. saying that the Simon Wi- esenthal Center is doing the Hungarian people and govern- ment "a tremendous favor by giving them the opportunity to honestly confront the bloody history of the Holocaust in court." Weinberger. following the developments from Sydney, continues to count her bless- ings. "I'm glad," she saic], "that I left Europe and went to the farthest corner on earth that I could find." By Dan G01dberg SYDNEY (JTA) Inacourt ruling that is bringing new attention to Australia's failure to prosecute alleged Nazi-era war criminals, the govern- ment will not surrender to Hungary the man believed to be the country's last World War II war crimes suspect. The nation's High Court ruled Aug. 15 that Karoly "Charles" Zentai will remain in Australia and not be extra- dited to his native Hungary on a war crimes charge. The long-awaited ruling handed down in Canberra dismissed an appeal by the federal government of a Federal Court judgment that Zentai could notbe extradited because war crimes was not an offense in Hungary on Nov. 8, 1944the date that Zentai is accused of helping to murder Peter Balazs, a Jewish teenager, in Budapest. The federal government had approved Zentai's extradi- tion to Hungary in 2009, but the decision was overturned on appeal last year in the Federal Court. The govern- ment then sought the ruling of the justices of nation's highest court, which has now dismissed the appeal. Zentai is not the first al- leged Nazi war criminal in Australia to avoid facing his accusers. Konrads Kalejs, an alleged leader of Latvia's notorious Arajs Kommando unit. accused of murdering thousands of Jews and gyp- sies in Riga in 1942-43. died in Australia in 2001 while awaiting a court decision on whether he should be extra- dited to his native Latvia. Zentai, who was a cadet sergeant in the pro-Nazi Hungarian army, has denied vehemently that he helped in the murder of the 18-year- old Balazs for not wearing the mandatory yellow Star of David before dumping his body in the Danube River. The 90-year-old Perth pensioner, who was first arrested by Aus- tralian Federal Police in 2005. claimed he left Budapest the day before Balazs was killed. In their 5-1 Verdict. the High Court judges argued that the extradition could not be approved because the Hungarian authorities had requested Zentai's surrender for war crimes, which was not an offense under Hungarian law at the time. Zentai greeted the ruling emotionally. "I'm just overwhelmed," he told the Australian Broadcast- ing Corp. in Perth. "I've been so stressed, the last few days in particular." But the judgment was met by a chorus of condemnation as well. Michael Danby, a Jewish legislator of the governing Labor Party, slammed the verdict as "appalling." In a speech delivered in par- liament in Canberra, Danby said Hungary enacted laws in 1945 to retrospectively make war crimes an offense. "Now when a country seeks to pursue and even inves- Henry Benjamin Marika Weinberger, a Ho- locaust survivor and former president of the Australian As- sociation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants. tigate the crimes of former Nazis like Zentai, they will be prevented from doing so by a blockheaded majority of High Court judges," he said. "Those who voted for it shall live in infamy." Danby said he had already approached the Hungarian ambassador to ask whether officials in Budapest will seek Zentai's extradition for murder. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon WiesenthaI Center's Israel office and one of the world's leading Nazi hunters, has pursued the case since 2005. That's when the Wi- esenthal Center's Operation Last Chance helped flush out Zentai's whereabouts. "It's a very sad day for Aus- tralia, avery sad day for justice S~LAZS D~ZUO ~y b~op~s~i xsid.6 cs~16d t&rt~et~ Karoly "Charles" Zentai's landing card in Australia, January, 1950. and a very sad day for the victims of the Holocaust, their relatives and anyone who has any sense of empathy with the victims of the Holocaust," he told JTA."'Today my thoughts are with the Balazs family." He said the decision was "not a reflection of Zentai's guilt or innocence," but that Australia has "totally failed" on the issue of Nazi war criminals. "It pains me to criticize Australia, but it has officially confirmed its status as the worst of theAnglo countries which sought to take legal action against Nazi war crimi- nals." he said. In 1987, the Australian government opened a Special Investigations Unit and inves- tigated 84:1 suspects. The unit closed five years later without a single conviction. "That was a disaster and we're paying the price to this day," Zuroff said. "The only people who benefitted were the Nazi war criminals whose haven in Australia proved to be the right choice." But he vowed the fight for justice is not over. even if Zentai will not be extradited. "Last month we caught a big Nazi criminal." he said, referring to Laszlo Csatary in Hungary. "It may be over in Australia. but it ain't over elsewhere." Csatary, a former police of- ricer, was arrested last month in Budapest for allegedly killr ing Jews in Ukraine in 1941. Budapest has decided not to try him for those charges, but is looking into others. Australian Jews slammed the ruling while praising the rule of law. Marika Weinberger, 84, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor whose mother and two grandmothers perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau, said of the Zentai ruling, "It does not come as a surprise. Yes, I am disappointed. Yes, I am sad. But I am not surprised." While she was a "proud Australian," Weinberger said, her country's governments have "never spoken up hard enough on the issue of alleged ex-Nazis in the country." "We remain the only coun- trywho could have and should have" convicted Nazi war criminals, she added. "This is why it hurts. I can't under- stand it. I would have liked to live long enough that at least one would be convicted, so that we would show the world we care." i ii, ii?,',; | I Sketch of Peter Balazs, an 18-year-old Jew who was murdered in 1944 in Hungary, allegedly by Karoly "Charles" Zentai. Anna Berger, the president of the Australian Association of Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, described the decision as "regrettable," but added that "we are loyal and grateful to this country for the shelter it gave us, and we re- spect the laws of the land even if we don't like the decisior/." Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said in a statement, "The decision of the High Court will of course be respected and adhered to even though to many people it will seem like the triumph of narrow formal legalism over substantive justice. Itwill be distressing to many that ZentM will now live out his final days untroubled by any prospect of having to account for his past actions.'"