Former death camp warden dies under investigation
The German-born woman led a Nazi death camp in Poland.
Vienna -- Erna Wallisch, a former concentration camp warden who was under investigation by Austrian authorities for war crimes, died last Saturday, Austrian prosecutors said on Thursday.
Wallisch, who was the daughter of a postman from Thuringia, Germany, died during a stay in hospital, authorities said. Prosecutors had reopened investigations against 86-year-old Wallisch earlier this year, after requests made by Polish authorities.
The woman was believed to have been involved in crimes at Nazi Death Camp Majdanek in Lublin, Poland, where she was active between October 1942 and January 1944. After the end of World War II she settled in Vienna.
The Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre expressed "deep regret" that Wallisch "was spared prosecution for her Holocaust crimes."
Wallisch was listed as a Nazi criminal by Jewish organizations. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, survivors identified her as a sadist who selected victims and sent them to their death.
The organization's Israel director, Efraim Zuroff said in a statement Wallisch and her family could thank the "decades-long failure of successive Austrian governments" for the fact that she was never punished.
"The fact that a woman who admitted taking people to be gassed and guarding them so that they could not escape was never held accountable for her heinous crimes is a badge of shame for Austria and stark proof of the decades-long lack of political will in Vienna to bring Austrian Holocaust perpetrators to justice," Zuroff said.
Charges against Wallisch in the 1970s were dropped owing to lack of evidence. There had not been enough evidence for her involvement in killings, and all other crimes had been subject of a statute of limitations, Austrian authorities said.
New witness reports from Poland, however, had made a fresh investigation into the case possible that had now been stopped "due to death", a spokesman of Vienna's prosecution authority was quoted as saying by the Austrian press agency.
DPA with Expatica