August 26, 2013

NAZI HUNTING: Not a growth industry, but not dead yet: “I’m aware, of course, that Nazi hunts continue. But surely, they cannot go on much longer, since not only the men, but also the witnesses are rapidly dying off. Assigning a plausible age to the younger criminals — say, someone who was 20 in 1942 — puts even the very youngest in their early 90s. Only 11 percent of the men born in the U.S. in 1922 are still alive, and the longevity for a European who lived through World War II is much lower. Those who are alive today can expect to live less than four years more. There are of course outliers. But the fact remains, we’re looking at the joint probability of two events that are themselves becoming more unlikely: uncovering a Nazi decades after he discarded his identity, and that Nazi being alive. The odds that the ones you uncover will be the ones who are still alive is necessarily much smaller than the already unlikely individual events.”