Some significant cases

Kurt Wiese

born September 4, 1914, in Schleusenau, Bromberg, Germany

From 1941 to 1943, SS Oberscharführer Kurt Wiese, called the “Butcher of Bialystok“, shot to death in Grodno and Bialystok in Poland at least 200 people, including 80 Jewish children as well as the entire staff of the Jewish ghetto hospital. Documents listing in detail Wiese’s brutal crimes and containing signed eyewitness testimonies had turned up in Soviet files and came into Wiesenthal’s possession through the help of the head of the Vienna office of the Soviet news agency, Tass.

Kurt Wiese was arrested in Cologne, Germany, in 1963 and released on bail in the amount of DM 4000 pending trial. At the end of May 1964, Wiese left the German Federal Republic under a false name in order to avoid prosecution. Hereupon Wiesenthal wrote a letter to the editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, complaining about the common practice of releasing Nazi criminals on bail, which made it easy for them to escape and go into hiding. Suspecting Wiese to be in Austria, Wiesenthal enlisted the help of an informant there and thus succeeded in taking up Wiese’s trail. Only after he had intervened with both the Austrian and German justice authorities, was a warrant for Wiese’s arrest issued in Austria. Kurt Wiese was apprehended on July 14, 1964, while planning to escape to Egypt - at the very last moment, just before his train was to pass the Austrian border. He was extradited to Germany and put on trial before the Cologne District Court. On June 27, 1968, Wiese was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.


Simon Wiesenthal’s letter to the editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, after Kurt Wiese’s escape, July 13, 1964

Letter by Simon Wiesenthal to the German Minister of the Interior concerning the undue delays in the Wiese case on the part of the authorities, July 17, 1964

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