Czech Jews ask Germany to try Terezin prison guard

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

PRAGUE — The recent revelation that a wanted Nazi war criminal is living comfortably in a Munich nursing home has evoked protests from Czech Jewish leaders, one of whom has accused German authorities of having little interest in bringing such criminals to justice.

Jewish leaders have joined Czech politicians in calling on the German government to prosecute Anton Malloth, 85, who served as a prison guard at the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia during the war.

More than 33,000 Jews died in the ghetto and many thousands more were sent to their deaths in concentration camps to the east.

After Malloth fled Czechoslovakia at the war's end, he was sentenced to death in absentia by a Czechoslovakian court in 1948 for his role in the murder of Jews in the ghetto.

He lived in Italy until authorities there expelled him to Germany in 1988, according to news reports. Authorities in the German state of Bavaria then granted him citizenship — a move that under German law prevents him from being extradited to Czechoslovakia.

The case came to the fore earlier this month, when a member of Germany's Green Party disclosed Malloth's whereabouts.

According to Tomas Kraus, executive director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, Malloth was found by a German citizen whose father had been tortured by Malloth at Theresienstadt, which is called Terezin in Czech.

This person had been searching for Malloth for years, Kraus said.

The director of the Terezin Memorial, Jan Munk, questioned the intentions of German leadership on this issue.

If Germany "wanted to find him, they would have found him a long time ago. There wasn't too much will to find him."

Germany will now "have to approach this case and do something. It is important for him to be sentenced," Munk added.