Đuro Milivoj Ašner
21 April 1913|
Daruvar, Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary
|Died||14 June 2011
|Cause of death||Dementia|
|Other names||Georg Aschner|
|Known for||Accused for expulsion and deportation of hundreds of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies|
Đuro Milivoj Ašner (21 April 1913 – 14 June 2011) was a police chief in the Independent State of Croatia who was accused of enforcing racist laws under the Nazi-allied Ustaše regime and expulsion and deportation of hundreds of Serbs, Jews and Romani. He was 4th on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals and on the Interpol's most wanted list also.
Ašner himself admitted the deportations of Serbs to Serbia, but denied there was any deportations to the camps, as he stated, "such moves would be expensive, as one must feed and restrain the prisoners."
Ašner was born in Daruvar, in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia in 1941, he became chief of police in Požega. After the collapse of the Independent State of Croatia, Ašner retreated towards Austria where he took a new name, Georg Aschner.
In 1992, after Croatia gained independence, Ašner returned to Croatia living in Požega until 2004, when Alen Budaj, a historian and associate of the Israeli Simon Wiesentahl Centre located him there. In the same year, director of the Centre, Efraim Zuroff, brought the documents on Ašner to the Croatian Prosecutor's Office. Ašner fled to Austria. In 2005, the Republic of Croatia accused him of crimes against the civilians and asked for his extradition from Austria. In 2008, Austria refused on the grounds that Ašner suffered from severe dementia and unfit to stand trial. In 2008 he was pictured attending an international football match by the British tabloid newspaper The Sun casting doubt on his medical condition.
Efforts to prosecute
In 2005, Croatia indicted Ašner for crimes against humanity and war crimes in the city of Požega in 1941-42. In February 2006, Austrian judicial officials said they were close to deciding on whether to arrest Ašner. Austrian officials initially ruled he could not be handed over to Croatian authorities as he held Austrian citizenship.
In June 2008, journalists reported that, despite the Austrian government's claims that he was in poor health, he appeared to be physically fit based on his presence at a European Championship football match involving Croatia in Klagenfurt, where he lived. This prompted renewed calls for his extradition to Croatia.
The controversial then Governor of Carinthia, Jörg Haider, praised Ašner's family as friendly and said of Ašner that "he's lived peacefully among us for years, and he should be able to live out the twilight of his life with us". This provoked further criticism, with Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center saying that Haider's views reflected "the political atmosphere which exists in Austria and which in certain circles is extremely sympathetic to suspected Nazi war criminals".
In an interview that aired in Croatia on 19 June 2008, Ašner acknowledged that he was involved in deportations, but maintained that those who were deported were taken not to death camps, as is generally believed, but to their homelands instead. He claimed his conscience was clear and that he was willing to go on trial in Croatia, but also asserted that his health was a problem. In an examination in the same week, it was again decided he was mentally unfit. Zuroff expressed the suspicion that Ašner was pretending or exaggerating regarding his condition.
- "Ratni zločinac Milivoj Ašner umro u Klagenfurtu u 98. godini". Večernji list (in Croatian). 20 June 2011. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Ya'ar, Chana (20 June 2011). "WWII Nazi War Criminal Milivoj Asner Dies Free in Austria". Arutz Sheva. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Ašner: Moraju me osloboditi jer sam Hrvat po rođenju". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). 19 June 2008. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- G., J. (20 June 2011). "Preminuo šef ustaške policije Milivoj Ašner". Dnevnik Nove TV. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- A., R. (20 June 2011). Преминуо Миливој Ашнер. Politika (in Serbian). Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "Praise for 'treasured' Nazi suspect revives accusations that Austria is sheltering him", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), 20 June 2008
- Ašner's entry in Interpol Wanted list[dead link]
- Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC)'s Annual Report and Most Wanted List[dead link], released 30 April 2008; accessed 2008-06-17
- "Fugitive Hunt", Dateline World Jewry, World Jewish Congress, July/August 2008
- Brian Flynn, "We find wanted Nazi at footie", The Sun (UK), 16 June 2008
- "Wiesenthal Center Urges Immediate Extradition of Wanted Nazi Revealed in Good Health in Austria"[dead link], 16 June 2008
- Holocaust Encyclopedia Entry on Yugoslavia, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website