Filmmaker’s Email Claimed BBC ‘Policy’ Barred Him From Revealing Hundreds Of Living Nazis



A leading Nazi-era expert working on a landmark BBC documentary about Auschwitz located “hundreds” of still-living former guards and other workers of the death camp – but refused to turn their names over to prosecutors, citing the British broadcasting giant’s “policy” of confidentiality, has learned.

The names surfaced during the making of “Auschwitz: The Nazis and ‘The Final Solution,” a six-part series that tells how the Third Reich put more than one million Jews and other Nazi-designated “inferiors” to death at the camp during World War II. Researchers who worked on the 2005 documentary later boasted of finding hundreds of former Nazis still alive and mostly living in Germany – men who may have been guilty of war crimes while guarding the infamous concentration camp. Literature promoting the series, including a book about it, touted the painstaking work done to find living Nazis who escaped justice.

“It’s an extraordinary testament to the research staff that we have found a number of people who actually openly talk about participating in the killing process,” wrote the documentary’s writer and producer, Laurence Rees, former head of BBC TV history programs.

The documentary, aired in the U.S. under the title “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State,” noted that of the 7,000 members of the SS who worked at Auschwitz and who survived the war, fewer than 800 were ever put on trial. Those still alive could have – and could still – face prosecution despite likely being in their 90s, but Frank Stucke, one of the primary researchers for the documentary said in a 2006 e-mail obtained by that disclosing the names of the potential war criminals was against BBC rules.

“Unfortunately, I cannot pass on data of my research work,” he wrote. “It would be against BBC policy to give away names of witnesses, because then we would never get any interviewees anymore.”

Stucke’s refusal was in response to a query from a U.S. citizen who’d met the Berlin-based researcher in Germany while working on an unrelated documentary for Discovery Channel. The unidentified American had pointed out to Stucke that the names would aid the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s ongoing Nazi-hunting efforts, and offered to connect Stucke with “individuals” who could get them to German government bureau responsible for the investigation of Nazi crimes.

A senior official with the German agency, which was established in 1958, told that it never subsequently received any list of “hundreds” of suspects from the BBC.

Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, expressed outrage that names may have been held back, pointing out that many of the Auschwitz personnel identified for the BBC series would now be dead.

“People who make films don’t think they have any obligation to help bring (perpetrators) to justice,” he said. “They are only interested in art, not in justice.”

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  1. Efraim Zuroff is wrong and much too kind.
    I agree that that they are not interested in justice.
    But they are most certainly not acting out of an interest in art.
    More like an interest in aiding and abetting the murderers of Jews.