Nazi war criminal László Csatáry must be brought to justice

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre confirmed that László Csatáry, accused of complicity in the killings of 15,700 Jews, had been tracked down to the Hungarian capital.


Hungarian prosecutors arrest Csatary, charge him with Nazi-era war crimes.


Is it still important to track down people like Csatáry, and why?


David Cesarani, Professor, Department of History, Holocaust Research Centre, Royal Holloway University of London

Laszlo Csatary was complicit in the imprisonment and deportation of thousands of Jews from Kassa/ Kosice to Auschwitz. The ‘ghetto’ – brickyards – where Jews were held was a key transfer point at which Hungarians handed Jews over the Germans for transportation onward to Auschwitz. As a result huge numbers of Jews passed through. Csatary was a senior officer in the Hungarian occupation force and held a position in which he exerted ‘command and control’. He did not just take order – he gave them.

Despite his age, he is therefore an accomplice in genocide, mass murder, enforced detention and many other crimes. The fact that he evaded justice for so long, and he was found guilty of war crimes in absentia by a Czechoslovak court, does not absolve him of guilt. He is as guilty now as he was then, he is as much a criminal now as he was then.

However, it the duty of a court to assess the evidence against him and to decide what if any punishment he should face in view of his age and his health. The fact that he is old and may be weak does not make him innocent. He played a part in the machinery of persecution sent a lot of old and frail Jews to the gas chambers. It is essential that Justice should be done, even if the outcome may be uncertain.

It is particularly important that Hungary show it is not hiding from its past. Populist right-wing parties are increasingly strong in Hungary today: if the Hungarian authorities fail to act in the case of Laszlo Csatary it may send a signal that it is fine to revive the slogans and the ideology of the fascist period in Hungary – which will be dangerous for all minorities in the country and for Hungary’s neighbours.

Richard EvansRegius Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge

It is important to track down, arrest and prosecute murderers whatever their age and however long ago they committed their crimes.

Ian KershawProfessor at the University of Sheffield, Author of the two volume biography of Adolf Hitler – Hitler: 1889–1936 HubrisHitler: 1936–1945 Nemesis

The scale of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its collaborators is such that those accused of involvement should be brought to justice as long as it is possible to do so.


3 Responses

  1. Laszlo Csatary has been “under investigation” by Hungarian police since last fall. This man murdered 15,700 innocent people, including my grandmother, with great cruelty. He was known to whip women and make them dig holes with their hands.

    What will Hungary do? ( It has already said that arresting him is problematic even though he was already found guilty in 1948.) Arrest him, give him a medal and a statue, or nothing? Recently Arrow Cross Nazis have been held up as heroes.

    The whole world is watching.

    • J.P.K,
      If you know of any websites or books that deal with lazslo, could you please point me in their direction? I’ve been trying to research his atrocities and am not having much luck. I am a ww2 studier. In my free time I read as much as I can about this subject. Id love to hear your thoughts, as this affects you very personally. Thank you for your time

  2. Excellent article and explanation, Mr Evans!

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