Poland set to release full list of Auschwitz staff

Poland is going to publish the most comprehensive list to date of individuals who worked at the Nazi concentration camp network Auschwitz-Birkenau, daily newspaper Rzeczpospolitareported yesterday.

Over one million people are thought to have perished in the camps, most of whom were Jewish, although Poles, Romani gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war were also killed in the gruesome facilities. Around 10,000 victims of other nationalities have also been recorded. After the camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army in 1945, however, there has been a systematic push to bring the functionaries who worked at the camp between 1940 and 1945 to justice.

The Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, which handles the investigation surrounding the death camps and is run by the state-run Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (Institute for National Remembrance), say that they have found evidence to identify around twice as many Auschwitz staff as previously reported.

Waldemar Szwiec, head of the institute's Kraków branch said that 8,753 people, including 186 women have been identified as having worked in the camps, compared to previous reports estimating that between 4,000 to 6,000.

Only 770 people have been sentenced after being found guilty of working at the camps, which Rzeczpospolita estimates is one in 11 of everyone implicated.

The list purports to include everyone who worked in the camp, including guards, SS officers, state officials and nurses. Szwiec believes that the new list may be helpful in bringing about new sentences as investigators estimate dozens of individuals implicated by the latest findings are still alive.

The institute is currently finalising its findings and plan to publish them in full, however where and when this will be done has not been made public yet. As a separate piece of research the institute is also compiling a list of the victims, as well as documenting the series of medical experiments performed on some of them.

Although officers and alleged accomplices in Auschwitz and other Nazi war crimes have been prosecuted in the Nuremberg trials, the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial and on other occasions, the logistical difficulties in locating, trialing and sentencing many potential accomplices have seen only a fraction of them charged.

A recent Newsweek Europe investigation found that prosecuting surviving Nazi war criminals is becoming increasingly complicated as many die from old age before they are sentenced. However, changes in legislation in Europe have reinvigorated efforts to hunt down surviving functionaries of the Nazi regime as some prosecutors no longer need proof of individual culpability in murder - an individual's presence at the time of the killings is now considered sufficient ground to press charges.