Sol Littman, Canadian director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC), thinks that our "effort to prosecute World War II criminals has been severely plagued by governmental callousness, lack of experience and internal conflict".
He may be right. Given the SWC's own strained ties to historical facts, though, his call for sending judges "back to school" surprises.
In January, 1998, the SWC released a report entitled The Unwanted Guests: Swiss Forced Labor Camps 1940-1944, accusing Switzerland of serious wartime crimes, and demanded compensation for the victims.
The author, Alan Morris Schom -- a U.S. historian and specialist in French colonial history -- had never even visited the Swiss federal archives and ignored the seminal work of Andre Lasserre.
Worse, a subsequent painstaking investigation by Australian businessman Ken Newman (who, as Austrian Jew Kresimir Neumann had been one of the alleged victims), revealed that the overwhelming majority of the survivors reached not only contradicted Schom's account and expressed gratitude for their wartime refuge, they had never been contacted by the SWC about any compensation demands.
In June, 1998, Rabbi Marvin Hier presented the SWC's second hatchet job entitled Survey of Nazi and Pro Nazi Groups in Switzerland 1930-1945.
The even more laughable allegations scraped together by Schom prompted Swiss Jewish leaders to consider a class action suit for defamation against the SWC. (Emphasis added)
Nazi hunter Wiesenthal publicly distanced himself from the centre that carries his name.
Those associated with such shenanigans, perhaps, are poorly placed to teach history lessons.