Jewish Leader: Race to Catch Holocaust Culprits Has Been Lost

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Knobloch was speaking at ceremonies marking 50 years of work by the so-called central office, which was established Dec. 1, 1958.

The agency's greatest achievements include compiling evidence between 1963 and 1965 to prosecute the key surviving commanders and guards from the Auschwitz death camp.

At Ludwigsburg in south-western Germany, where the agency has its office, German President Horst Koehler highlighted its contribution to restoring German honor in the world by ensuring that Nazis were duly punished for Holocaust crimes.

"We can thank these efforts to punish Nazi crimes for the fact that our nation is once again a respected member of the family of nations and is friends with former enemies," he said.

Powerless agency?

Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews, praised the agency but said the German justice system had not done enough.

"The race against time has been lost," she said. "An unknown number of grave crimes remain unpunished."

She accused Germany of not giving the Ludwigsburg agency sufficient powers to act fast against former Nazis.

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