Nazi Hunters

HISTORY CHANNEL – Mondays from 14 November, 8.30pm

The Nazi Hunters painstakingly hunted down some of the most hated and reviled people on earth. Sometimes they did it for the highest of motives but sometimes resorted to methods that, when revealed, would horrify their own supporters.

They were chasing men whose war crimes were so horrendous that they demanded retribution. And there were many prepared to pursue the perpetrators until justice was done, from Churchill to the SAS to the Strategists who planned the D-Day landings and Mossad. These stories of pursuit and the struggle to balance the scales of justice are full of drama, intrigue and tragedy. Who should be pursued? Should death always be the penalty for Nazi war crimes? In some cases it was alleged that it was the pursuers who lose their sense of decency and proportion. These are some of the great vengeance stories of the last hundred years.

9:45pm Sunday, May 22 on Prime

Documentary Series

Gustav Wagner/Franz Strangl

A fervent believer in Hitler’s theories on race and Aryan superiority, Franz Stangl is an Austrian career policeman who joins the Nazi party and works his way up the ranks. Proving a knack for mass murder, he eventually finds himself in charge of three Polish extermination camps where he is responsible for the genocide of 800,000 people. Following a well worn ‘ratline’, Stangl escapes to Brazil after the war where for nearly two decades he leads a comfortable existence in exile. That is until 1964 when the world’s most famous Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, receives an anonymous tip about Stangl’s whereabouts.

With help from the Brazilian police, and an extradition request from West Germany, Stangl is arrested in 1967. It is a major victory for Holocaust survivors, particularly since Stangl’s trial brings the horrifying reality of the extermination camps to light. Thanks to a surprising admission, it also puts Weisenthal on the trail of another notorious Nazi fugitive, his former deputy Gustav Wagner. According to Stangl, the man known as the ‘Beast of Sobibor’ is also in Brazil. But it will take nearly a decade, a secret birthday party for Hitler, and a Sobibor survivor to put Wagner behind bars.

9:40pm Sunday, May 15 on Prime

Documentary Series

Paul Touvier

One of France’s worst wartime villains, Paul Touvier is an overtly anti-Semitic traitor who terrorizes his own countrymen. As a leader of a pro-Nazi paramilitary police force, he relishes his job of hunting down ‘enemies of the state’ and, murdering Jews and resistance fighters alike, earns himself the nickname the ‘Hangman of Lyon’. A devout Catholic, Touvier escapes retribution after the war by turning to the church for help. By 1988, France’s most notorious war criminal is still at large, and a high-ranking French investigator, Jean-Louis Recordon, is given the job of hunting him down. After 40 years, it is a nearly impossible mission. Recordon starts with his last known address – the archdiocese in Lyon. As the investigation unfolds Recordon discovers that a shadowy right wing movement within the Catholic church is hiding the Nazi collaborator. The manhunt takes detectives to secretive religious orders all over France. It also reveals that the deep divisions caused by the war live on.

9:45pm Sunday, May 8 on Prime

Documentary Series

Kurt Lischka

Arguably the most notorious Nazi fugitive of all, Dr. Joseph Mengele earned the nickname the ‘Angel of Death’ for his perverse and sadistic experiments at Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, Mengele escaped to Buenos Aires where he lived the high life on the run. That is, until 1959 when the West German government indicted Mengele for mass murder and demanded his extradition. At the same time, having just captured fellow SS officer Adolf Eichman, Israeli Mossad agents turned their sights on Mengele. With his carefree life now long-gone, the Nazi doctor went into hiding.

And although Mossad agents tracked him down outside Sao Paulo, their mission was shelved, and Mengele remained at large. By 1985, pressure from Holocaust survivors converged with political will, and German, Israeli and American law enforcement agents agreed to coordinate their efforts. The hunt for Mengele moved into high gear, and although investigators eventually found him in Brazil, they were too late. He had died six years earlier, but doubts linger as to whether the exhumed corpse really is the infamous Dr. Mengele.

HISTORY CHANNEL – Wednesday 4 May, 7.30pm

It’s one of the greatest, true detective stories ever. Featuring eight spellbinding missions, Nazi Hunters tells how a select band of secret agents and avengers hunted down some of the most evil men in history and finally brought them to justice. Intense, visceral, and narrated by real-life Nazi hunters, every episode tells the story of one electrifying mission. And, from Klaus Barbie’s dramatic pursuit in Bolivia, to the audacious Mossad operation to kidnap Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, recounts how the Nazis finally met their nemesis.

9:45pm Sunday, May 1 on Prime

Documentary Series

Josef Mengele

Arguably the most notorious Nazi fugitive of all, Dr. Joseph Mengele earned the nickname the ‘Angel of Death’ for his perverse and sadistic experiments at Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, Mengele escaped to Buenos Aires where he lived the high life on the run. That is, until 1959 when the West German government indicted Mengele for mass murder and demanded his extradition. At the same time, having just captured fellow SS officer Adolf Eichman, Israeli Mossad agents turned their sights on Mengele. With his carefree life now long-gone, the Nazi doctor went into hiding. And although Mossad agents tracked him down outside Sao Paulo, their mission was shelved, and Mengele remained at large.

By 1985, pressure from Holocaust survivors converged with political will, and German, Israeli and American law enforcement agents agreed to coordinate their efforts. The hunt for Mengele moved into high gear, and although investigators eventually found him in Brazil, they were too late. He had died six years earlier, but doubts linger as to whether the exhumed corpse really is the infamous Dr. Mengele.

9:55pm Sunday, April 24 on Prime

Documentary Series

Erich Priebke

As one of the highest-ranking Gestapo officers in Rome during the war, Erich Priebke is responsible for one of Italy’s worst atrocities. He later escapes to Argentina where he eludes justice for fifty years. That is, until a high-profile team of American TV Journalists stumbles onto his trail. They find Priebke in a German-speaking alpine resort town in the Andes. But can they capture him on camera? And will a mass murderer be brought to justice?

9:45pm Sunday, April 17 on Prime

Documentary Series

Erich Priebke

As one of the highest-ranking Gestapo officers in Rome during the war, Erich Priebke is responsible for one of Italy’s worst atrocities – the Ardeatine Cave massacres. On a direct order from Adolf Hitler, Priebke orchestrates the assassination of 335 Italian civilians. And, after escaping to Argentina, eludes justice for fifty years until a high-profile team of American TV journalists stumbles onto his trail. Researching how Nazi war criminals fled to post-war Argentina, the ABC news crew pores over the government’s recently released archives in Buenos Aires. And, after uncovering two names of interest, their trail eventually leads them to Bariloche, a German-speaking alpine resort town high in the Andes. Incredibly, they find Erich Priebke listed in the local phone book. And after a sting to confirm his identity, send in the TV crew to ambush him and confront him with the facts. Can they capture him on camera? And will a mass murderer be brought to justice?

9:50pm Sunday, April 10 on Prime

Documentary Series

Klaus Barbie

As the Gestapo chief in Lyon, Klaus Barbie has the blood of 10,000 French Jews on his hands. But rather than being imprisoned after the war, he’s instead hired by the CIA as an anti-communist agent. Eventually Barbie escapes to Latin America where he works for dictators and drug barons and lives undetected for decades. That is, until a middle-class German housewife and mother vows to track him down. Married to a French Jew and living in Paris, Beate Klarsfeld and her husband Serge have dedicated their lives to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.

And, after successfully lobbying the German courts to reopen the case against Barbie, they mount a successful media campaign and track him down in Lima. Hoping to convince local authorities to extradite him to Europe, Klarsfeld flies first to Peru, and when Barbie escapes to Bolivia, follows him to La Paz. She leads a series of powerful demonstrations, is herself imprisoned and eventually makes headlines around the world. But it will take another decade, a failed kidnapping plot and sweeping political change in Bolivia to bring the man known as the Butcher of Lyon to justice.

9:50pm Sunday, April 3 on Prime

Documentary Series

Herbert Cukurs

Herbert Cukurs is an officer in the Latvian Air Force and his country’s most celebrated pilot. But after the Nazi invasion, he joins forces with the fascists, earning the nickname ‘The Hangman of Riga’. The sadistic Cukurs snatches babies from their mothers, burns a synagogue full of people, and is responsible for the extermination of 30,000 Latvian Jews. Twenty years later, Cukurs is living quietly in Sao Paolo, Brazil. That is, until the Nazi-hunting unit of the Israeli secret service tracks him down. Kicking off one of the most daring missions in its history, Mossad agents decide to execute Cukurs without a public trial, and send a message to Nazi war criminals the world over to fear for their lives.

Posing as a successful Austrian businessman and former Nazi lieutenant named ‘Anton Kuenzle’, an undercover Mossad spy makes contact with Cukurs and the master plan begins to unfold. Impressed by Kuenzle’s apparent wealth and success, Cukurs readily admits he’s a war criminal. But earning his trust and luring him out of the country prove more challenging. Can the cunning spy win over the greedy and paranoid Cukurs? And can he kill Cukurs before Cukurs sees through his disguise?