Ex-communist Europe’s pursuit of Holocaust justice stirs anti-Semitism
New democracies are tackling the issue, considered taboo before communism’s fall. But property-restitution and nonagenarian jailings have sparked backlash.
By Michael J. Jordan | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – In January 1942, Hungarian Sandor Kepiro helped round up some 1,000 Jews and Serbs, who were later massacred. He denies, though, giving orders to kill them.

Mr. Kepiro later fled to Argentina, where he remained for half a century until Hungary allowed him to return. He was convicted in absentia in 1946, but his pursuers never relented: Any day now, the 92-year-old will learn whether Budapest courts will retry him for war crimes.

Six decades after World War II, the once-dormant pursuit of Holocaust-related justice is forging ahead in newly democratic central-eastern Europe. Yet the hunt carries a price: It has stirred resentment among a financially struggling populace, which bristles at the multimillion-dollar property claims by their Jewish communities, and sees the harassment of nonagenarians as unnecessary or even cruel.

“I would venture to say Holocaust issues are the major source of anti-Semitism in post-Communist Europe today,” says Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, sometimes referred to as “the world’s last Nazi-hunter.”