NEW YORK — Officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles met here Wednesday with Australian Foreign Minister Bill Hayden to present a list of 40 suspected Nazi war criminals believed to be residing in Australia.
The list was compiled using new computer technology recently made available to the Wiesenthal Center, which gives the center access to immigration data from archives in Europe. Center officials said lists for Canada, England, the United States and Sweden based on the immigration data will be issued soon.
"The previous bottleneck has always been the lack of valuable immigration data," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center. "This is the preliminary 40. We expect the Australian list to go up to 200 or more. We expect the worldwide list to be 3,000 to 4,000 and that is a conservative estimate."
'Accused of Murder'
"We think this is a very significant development in the search for Nazi war criminals," Hier told a Manhattan news conference, "Most of these 40 are accused of the crime of murder. It is the beginning of a new age in the search for war criminals."
The Wiesenthal Center's dean declined to reveal the source of the immigration data, saying he feared his organization would be denied access to the records. But he said that the records had been legally obtained and would be invaluable in the search for suspected criminals.
"Before, we were concentrating on single war criminals," Hier explained. "Now the entire field of Nazi hunting and bringing criminals to justice will change dramatically . . . . If you are looking for a suspect, where did he go to? If you have the information where he went to--if you know his ship and the place of destination--you narrow down the hunt."
The list given to Australian officials contains the names, and in some cases the addresses and telephone numbers, of people suspected of atrocities in Latvia and Czechoslovakia. The list included several chiefs and deputy police chiefs, Gestapo officials and suspected collaborators. It contains, in some cases, the names of the ships aboard which they left Germany and their dates of departure.
Full Confidence Expressed
"Based on what the foreign minister told us, the government of Australia will pursue the list vigorously," Hier said. "We have full confidence the government of Australia will take proper action . . . . These are individuals who are named here. They are accused and should be investigated vigorously."
An Australia government spokesman said: "We received the material. We haven't had a chance to look at it yet. It will be sent back to Australia. The government will look at it through an already existing inquiry looking into other charges that people entered Australia illegally after World War II."