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Arts & Culture

Elusive Justice: : The Search For Nazi War Criminals

Nazi war criminal Kurt Lishka, photographed in Cologne, Germany, in 1971.
Courtesy of Harry Dreifuss
Nazi war criminal Kurt Lishka, photographed in Cologne, Germany, in 1971.

Airs Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Allies declared the Nazi party a criminal organization and pledged to prosecute and punish all those who took part in genocide and crimes against humanity.

During the Nuremberg Trials, approximately 1,000 Nazi officials were convicted of crimes against humanity; but hundreds of thousands of suspected war criminals evaded prosecution -- by returning to the societies they’d helped destroy; by concealing their war records, by assuming false identities; by fleeing Europe; or by serving the Allies as spies and scientists. Thousands of Nazi criminals are presumed to be alive.

"Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals," a new documentary premiering on PBS, explores why governments and institutions failed to prosecute and punish mass murderers, and why certain individuals chose to pursue fugitive killers on their own.


Filmed in eight countries over the course of three years, "Elusive Justice" profiles the men and women who took matters into their own hands and succeeded in tracking down Nazi fugitives when official institutions failed.

Narrated by acclaimed actress Candice Bergen, the film includes interviews with suspected war criminals, their families and defenders, professional and amateur investigators, as well as attorneys, survivors, military officials, jurists, and politicians.