World

AP Interview: 70 years on, Germany still untangling the legal legacy of its Nazi past

  • In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, looks on after an interview with the news agency 'The Associated Press' at the ministry in Berlin, Germany.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, looks on after an interview with the news agency 'The Associated Press' at the ministry in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, speaks during an interview with the news agency 'The Associated Press' at the ministry in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, speaks during an interview with the news agency 'The Associated Press' at the ministry in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, speaks during an interview with the news agency 'The Associated Press' at the ministry in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, speaks during an interview with the news agency 'The Associated Press' at the ministry in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

Germany's justice ministry has launched a wide-ranging effort to examine the influence that the Nazis had on the country's legal system, including the role some German officials played in preventing former Nazis from being prosecuted after the war.

The project, 70 years after the end of World War II, comes amid a fresh push to bring surviving Nazi war criminals to justice.

In an interview, Justice Minister Heiko Maas told The Associated Press: "Too many who bore guilt covered for each other."

Among the obstacles to prosecuting former Nazis for decades after the war was that German law required proof of direct involvement in a killing for a murder charge — the only crime not covered by the statute of limitations.