Having ordered the systematic murder of millions of people, Nazi Germany was responsible for some of the darkest days in human history. However, following the defeat of the Axis powers, justice was not instantaneous. In fact, many of those responsible for the atrocities of the Third Reich managed to flee across the globe, settling down beyond the reach of those who would search for them. That did not mean that justice would not find them, however. Here are ten Nazi fugitives, guilty of terrible crimes, who were eventually made to pay for their deeds.
10. Klaus Barbie
Known as the Butcher of Lyon, Klaus Barbie was the head of the Gestapo in the French city during World War Two. As well as personally torturing men, women and children, he is thought to have been directly responsible for the deaths of 14,000 people, overseeing massacres and the deportation of Jewish orphans to Auschwitz. In the years after the war he worked for the CIA, who helped him flee to Argentina, before he moved on to Bolivia and began work for the West German secret services. During this time it is alleged that Barbie was actually responsible for the capture and execution of the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara. It was not until 1983 that Barbie was arrested by the Bolivian government and extradited to France. In 1987 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, and died in prison four years later.
9. Ante Pavelic
The leader of Fascist Croatia, Ante Pavelic’s racial policies led to the murder of some 300,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-Fascist Croats in the most brutal ways imaginable. At the end of the war, he fled to Italy, and then Argentina, where in 1957 he was shot in the back in an attempted assassination attempt. While his assailants have never been identified, Pavelic would die two years later, reportedly as a result of his injury, having sought sanctuary in Fascist Spain.
8. Erich Preibke
On March 23 1944, 33 German soldiers were killed by the Italian Resistance. In retaliation it was ordered that for every soldier killed, ten prisoners would be executed. Summarily, 335 Resistance fighters and Jewish prisoners were taken to the Ardeatine caves and massacred. Fifty years later, Erich Preibke, who had drawn up the list of those who were to be killed, spoke about his involvement in the mass murder to an ABC News reporter – and was extradited from his adopted home of Argentina to Italy to face trial. Following sentencing and appeals he was eventually imprisoned for life, his term to be served under house arrest.
7. Franz Stangl
Franz Stangl’s first experience of systematic murder was as the superintendent of the T-4 Euthanasia Programme, killing the mentally and physically disabled. Then, during the years of WW2, he became the commandant of the Sobibor and then Treblinka extermination camps, and oversaw the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Following the war he fled to Italy, Syria and then Brazil, where he took up work at a Volkswagen plant. It was not until 1967 that he was extradited to West Germany, where in 1970 he was sentenced to life imprisonment, before dying of heart failure a year later.
6. Dr. Sándor Képíró
In 1944, Sándor Képíró, a Hungarian police captain, was found guilty of taking part in the Novi Sad massacre in which some 3,000 civilian hostages were murdered. Fleeing to Austria and then Argentina shortly afterward, Képíró did not return until 1996. In February of 2011, the Hungarian authorities charged the now 97-year-old man for his involvement in the massacre. The verdict is yet to be determined.
5. Andrija Artukovic
Known as the Himmler of the Balkans, Artukovic was the Croatian Minister of the Interior during WW2 and was closely involved in the mass murder of Serbs, Jews and Roma. Following the war, he fled from Switzerland to Ireland and then the US, where he lived until the 1980s. He was eventually extradited to Yugoslavia, where he was issued with a death sentence in 1986. At the time, this was commuted due to the fact he was suffering from dementia. He eventually died in prison in Zagreb in 1988.
4. Herberts Cukurs
Herberts Cukurs was a member of the notorious Arajs Kommando and was responsible for many of the worst atrocities committed in the Riga ghetto of Latvia. He also played a major part in the Rumbula massacre, in which 25,000 people were murdered over two days. In addition, he was responsible for the burning of the Riga synagogues, dragging Jews into the buildings before setting them alight. In the postwar years, Cukurs emigrated to Brazil, where he established a business running panoramic flights. It was for this purpose that he was persuaded to travel to Uruguay in 1965, where, in a suburban house, he was shot in the head by Mossad agents.
3. Dinko Šakic
In 1944, at the age of 23, Dinko Šakic was made commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp, where some 50,000 people were murdered. After the fall of the Axis, Šakic fled to Argentina. He was eventually extradited to Croatia, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Speaking in 1994, he commented: “I’d do it all again,” and said that his only regret was that more Serbs had not died in the camps. In 2008 he died in the prison hospital.
2. Karl Linnas
Between 1941 and 1943, Karl Linnas, an Estonian, served as the commandant of Tartu concentration camp, where he was personally responsible for murdering men, women and children. When Estonia was liberated by the Soviet forces, Linnas fought alongside the Nazis, retreating to Germany. After being held in a Displaced Persons camp, he eventually made his way to the US. In 1962, in his absence, he was sentenced to death by the Soviet courts for his actions in the Holocaust. However, it wasn’t until 1979 that US immigration officials began to investigate how Linnas had arrived in the country. In 1987 he was deported to the USSR, where he died three months later in a Leningrad prison hospital, awaiting trial.
1. Adolf Eichmann
During WW2, Adolf Eichmann was made Transportation Administrator for the Final Solution, and was thus responsible for sending millions to their deaths. Sent to Hungary in the final years of the war, Eichmann continued his genocidal work even when ordered to stop by Berlin. Following the war, Eichmann lay low in Germany and Italy before fleeing to Argentina, where he worked in odd jobs until 1960 – when he was captured by Mossad agents and smuggled to Israel to face trial for war crimes. He was found guilty and hanged in 1962.