Hungarian Is Faced With Evidence of Role in ’42 Atrocity

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The past caught up with Sandor Kepiro, 92, on Thursday, when the Simon Wiesenthal Center identified him as a junior police officer who was twice found guilty of participating in one of the worst atrocities committed by Hungarian forces during World War II.

At a news conference at a synagogue opposite Mr. Kepiro’s apartment here, members of the Wiesenthal Center ended what for him had been 60 years of relative anonymity as they issued copies of a recently rediscovered wartime court verdict. The document shows that Mr. Kepiro was charged and found guilty along with 14 other Hungarian Army and paramilitary police officers of taking part in the Novi Sad massacre in northern Serbia in January 1942, in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Jews, were killed.

In an extraordinary scene, Mr. Kepiro returned home from the doctor shortly after the news conference and discovered a crowd of reporters outside his apartment building. Over the next hour, he took questions from reporters at his front door, acknowledging that he had helped round up people before the massacre but denying that he had killed anyone or given orders to shoot.

The massacre, which is known in Serbian history books as the Racija, based on the Serbian word for raid, took place over three days. Hungarian forces, who occupied Novi Sad after their German allies conquered Yugoslavia in 1941, rounded up hundreds of families and eventually mowed them down with machine-gun fire on the shores of the Danube. The bodies were then dumped into the icy waters, which had to be broken up by artillery fire.

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