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March 13, 2015  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Holocaust Museum’s annual gala honors Nazi hunter as humanitarian


(L-R) Nathaniel Doliner, chairman of the Florida Holocaust Museum’s board of directors; Elizabeth Gelman, museum executive director; Eli Rosenbaum, recipient this year of the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award, and Sandy Mermelstein, daughter of museum founders Walter Loebenberg and the late Edie Loebenberg. 
Photos by Sherry Keenen, Best View Photography (L-R) Nathaniel Doliner, chairman of the Florida Holocaust Museum’s board of directors; Elizabeth Gelman, museum executive director; Eli Rosenbaum, recipient this year of the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award, and Sandy Mermelstein, daughter of museum founders Walter Loebenberg and the late Edie Loebenberg. Photos by Sherry Keenen, Best View Photography Famed “Nazi hunter” Eli Rosenbaum returned to St. Petersburg, the site of his first Nazi prosecution case, to receive The Florida Holocaust Museum’s 2015 Loebenberg Humanitarian Award at the Museum’s “To Life: To Justice” gala on Thursday, Feb. 26.

Rosenbaum, director of Human Rights Strategy and Policy in the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Justice Department, was honored for his tireless work in pursuing justice for the victims and survivors of the Holocaust throughout his more than 30-year career.

Thanking the museum for the award, Rosenbaum said, “I can accept it only on the thought that it recognizes the work of not just one individual, but rather of the many scores of dedicated, tenacious and brilliant professionals at the United States Department of Justice with whom I have been privileged to work over the course of the past 30 years.”


St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and wife Kerry chat with Lois Pardoll, center, at the To Life gala, sponsored by the Florida Holocaust Museum. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and wife Kerry chat with Lois Pardoll, center, at the To Life gala, sponsored by the Florida Holocaust Museum. Rosenbaum previously visited the Holocaust museum in 1996, when he first met the Museum’s founders Walter and Edith (of blessed memory) Loebenberg, for whom the Humanitarian award is named.

“What a remarkable institution the Tampa-St. Petersburg community has built in the ensuing two decades - truly one of the leading institutions of its kind in the entire world,” Rosenbaum told the hundreds who attended the event at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Rosenbaum’s first prosecution in 1980 involved a 70-year-old man living in St. Pete Beach who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship for lying about his membership in a Lithuanian police organization sponsored by the Nazis during the German occupation of Lithuania. The unit arrested, detained and murdered unarmed citizens, according to the official complaint filed by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The local story made national headlines and was the start of Rosenbaum’s storied career as the longest serving prosecutor and investigator of Nazi war criminals in history.

Rosenbaum served as OSI Director from 1994-2010, where he not only investigated and prosecuted WWII-era Nazi war criminals but also obtained historical and remunerative justice from European governments on behalf of Holocaust victims and survivors.

He also directed the investigation that resulted in the worldwide exposure of the Nazi past of former United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim in 1986, arguably the most sensational uncovering of a Nazi criminal in postwar history.

Rosenbaum became the director of the new Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy division in 2010. In addition to pursuing Nazi war criminals, the section also investigates war criminals from places like Bosnia, Guatemala and Rwanda, who think they have found a safe haven in the U.S.

Dr. Zena Lansky and Warren Rodgers were co-chairs of the event and To Life committee members were Toni Rinde, Janet A. Rodriguez-Rocha, Lisl Schick and Rachael S. Worthington .

Gayle Sierens, WFLA-TV News Channel 8 co-anchor, served as emcee for the evening’s program.


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