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Top Nazi hunter to retire this month, after 38 years at US Justice Department

Most recently, the department tapped Eli Rosenbaum to lead investigations into war crimes in Ukraine.

Eli Rosenbaum, director of human rights enforcement policy and strategy at the U.S. Department of Justice's human rights and special prosecutions section, speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace on June 28, 2022. Source: Flickr/U.S. Institute of Peace.
Eli Rosenbaum, director of human rights enforcement policy and strategy at the U.S. Department of Justice's human rights and special prosecutions section, speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace on June 28, 2022. Source: Flickr/U.S. Institute of Peace.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s longest-serving prosecutor Eli Rosenbaum, who is also one of the world’s top Nazi hunters, intends to retire after 38 years at the department by the end of the year.

Rosenbaum serves as counselor at the War Crimes Accountability Team, which the department launched last year to “centralize and strengthen” its “ongoing work to hold accountable those who have committed war crimes and other atrocities during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Christian Levesque, the team’s lead prosecutor, will serve as its director beginning in January.

“A year and a half ago, I asked Eli Rosenbaum to lead a team of Justice Department prosecutors working to identify and prosecute individuals involved in war crimes and atrocities committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Garland said. “I am deeply grateful to Eli for postponing his retirement to stand up and lead that team, and for his decades of service to our country and to the cause of justice.”

“Recently, the Justice Department filed the first-ever charges under the U.S. war crimes statute against four Russia-affiliated military personnel for heinous crimes against an American citizen,” he added.

In an interview published in April in the Harvard Law Bulletin, Rosenbaum, who is Jewish, said that the war in Ukraine is “the largest-scale perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity in armed conflict since World War II.”

“Nicknamed ‘the Nazi hunter,’ Rosenbaum spent much of his 40-year career at DOJ pursuing and prosecuting Nazis living in the U.S., racking up 119 court victories, more than the prosecutors in all other countries combined,” per the publication.

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