Serbia’s president Tomislav Nikolić presented Serbia’s Gold Medal for Merit to Dr. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter and director for Eastern European affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on February 16 as part of celebrations of Sretenje, Serbia’s day of statehood. The award was presented for “exceptional achievements” by Dr. Zuroff and noted his “selfless dedication to defending the truth about the suffering of Jews, and also Serbs, Roma and other nationalities, during World War II.”
Zuroff was the first to be called to receive the award from the president’s hand and was one of only a few foreigners to be honored with the distinction. He is only one of two Israelis ever to have received the medal, along with Serbian-born Israeli justice minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid. Efraim Zuroff has deep Litvak roots and has worked on Holocaust justice and education in Lithuania for many decades now.