German government using new technologies to track former Nazis and neo-Nazis

BY News Desk  January 12, 2014 at 6:24 PM EST

Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, the German government is ramping up its efforts to pursue prosecution of individuals who committed war crimes during the Nazi era.

In turn, Germany has started to use new technologies to identify former Nazi criminals and combat neo-Nazis.

Nazi era files Operation Last Chance

Tracking war criminals from a distance can require hours spent sifting through dusty files. But the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem has turned to the public and the media in what could be a last-ditch effort to obtain justice for Holocaust victims. Wiesenthal Center Poster

The poster for Operation Last Chance reads “late, but not too late.” The Center used the poster during its campaign to encourage people to come forward if they have information about crimes committed during the war.

The project began in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, and Cologne, and later expanded to a number of other locations. According to The Center’s Efrain Zuroff, response to the first round of posters increased greatly due to the international media attention.

“In total we got about 111 names of suspicious people,” he said. “The Simon Wiesenthal Center then investigated about 65 of those 111 names. In the end we turned over four cases to the German federal prosecutors office.”

One recent victory for Zuroff occurred on Jan. 8, when an 88-year-old man was charged by a Cologne court on 25 counts of murder, connected to the slaughter of 642 men, women and children in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

“Nazi Shazam” targets right-wing music

Neo-nazi rally

Germany’s Der Spiegel reported on Dec. 2, about a new technology that might soon be adopted by police forces across Germany.

The interior ministers of the country’s 16 regional states met to discuss a mobile app dubbed “Nazi Shazam,” named after the mobile app Shazam that identifies snippets of music picked up by a mobile phone.

The new software aims to quickly identify neo-Nazi rock music, which officials say can be a “gateway drug” into the far-right scene.